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Five Years After His Death, Sean Taylor Remains In Santana Moss’ Thoughts

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – Santana Moss says a prayer before every game.

The Washington Redskins’ receiver will walk into the end zone not long before kickoff, tap his chest and look to the sky. He’ll speak to friends who died when he was younger, and then he’ll speak to Sean Taylor.

Moss

“I let him know that I’m out here playing – ‘I’m out here on the field, you know? Come play with me,’” Moss said. “I want to play with him, so I mean, I always think about the guy. He’ll forever be in my thoughts.”

It has been five years since Moss began saying a prayer for Taylor, the former Redskins safety who was shot in a botched robbery at his Miami-area home and died on Nov. 27, 2007. The two developed a close friendship during their time in Washington, owing to their South Florida roots and their common interests.

The two went to the University of Miami – Moss first, then Taylor. They didn’t meet until Moss was traded to the Redskins before the 2005 season, and they developed a quick friendship.

“We used to sit next to each other on planes on traveling trips, and each trip, I got to know a little more about the guy,” Moss said. “Then we started about talking about our days at UM, and then when we went home, we’d see each other in the weight room. That’s how I came to have my bond with him, and that’s why it hurt me the way it did, because it’s like … when he’s gone, you just realize that he’s that special person in your life and he’s going to be missed, and you don’t have anybody you can lean on to have those same talks and have those same laughs.”

Taylor was regarded for tenacity on the field, but as Moss explained, he was misunderstood off it. Occasionally embroiled in legal issues, Moss was disgusted by the backlash toward Taylor after his death, particularly because of the suggestion that trouble would eventually find Taylor because of his lifestyle.

“One thing about it, he was a loving person,” Moss said. “He never put harm on people that didn’t deserve something. He had one incident where someone stole something from his house and threatened his family and he went after them, and in the papers, it showed it like he was a bad guy. No. He was very protective.”

Taylor’s home was originally broken into eight days prior to the shooting, though it was unclear if anything was stolen. Then, on Nov. 26, Taylor was recovering from a knee injury while at home with his girlfriend and daughter when five men broke in and shot Taylor in the upper leg, rupturing his femoral artery.

He remained in a coma for roughly 24 hours before he died at the hospital. His teammates, coaches and several other members of the organization flew to Miami to attend his funeral a week later, then won their final four games of the season to qualify for the playoffs, where they lost to Seattle in the wild card round.

“To be honest with you, in my opinion, man – our team found out a lot about ourselves that year,” Moss said. “Given what we had to deal with, I mean, it’s hard. I mean, even if you weren’t a guy that walked every day as a friend next to Sean Taylor, being a teammate of his was enough. You knew what you had in that teammate.”

Moss has occasionally kept in touch with Taylor’s family, including his father, Pedro, his girlfriend, Jackie, and his daughter, also named Jackie. They were at FedEx Field on Nov. 4 when the Redskins honored Taylor and the other nine players and coaches added to the list of the team’s all-time greatest players, though Moss regretted that he didn’t have an opportunity to say hello.

Or, in Taylor’s case, that he never got to say goodbye.

“I remember our last talk,” Moss said. “It was right before we went off on our last trip. We played our last game that weekend [at Tampa Bay], and he was laughing with us, telling us, ‘Yeah, you go down there and have a blast. You do this for us and you do this,’ and we joked. He said, ‘I’ll see you when you get back,’ and that’s the weekend that he didn’t come back.”

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