DAN: Washington Says Goodbye
By Dan O'Donnell
With heavy hearts and an empty spot at strong safety, the grieving Redskins took the field and tried their best to play as strong as Sean Taylor's father wanted them to. That they didn't beat the Bills was disappointing, that their teammate and friend wasn't there with them was downright heartbreaking.
Perhaps never before in professional sports has a team played so soon after the death of one of its members and perhaps never in history has an entire league paused to mourn one of its rising stars like the NFL did today.
Taylor's skills on the field may have brought him fortune and fame, but his exploits off of it brought him infamy and clouded his legacy to the point where it was simply assumed that his former thug lifestyle led to his death. Now that four young men are under arrest for what really does appear to be a random burglary turned deadly, an infinite number of pundits have some explaining to do.
Consider this column from Jason Whitlock, who strongly implies that Taylor's checkered past led to his demise, as he "had difficulty breaking free from the unsavory characters he associated with during his youth."
He continues: "The 'keepin’ it real' mantra of hip hop is in direct defiance to evolution. There’s always someone ready to tell you you’re selling out if you move away from the immature and dangerous activities you used to do, you’re selling out if you speak proper English, embrace education, dress like a grown man, do anything mainstream.
The Black KKK is enforcing the same crippling standards as its parent organization. It wants to keep black men in their place — uneducated, outside the mainstream and six feet deep."
This sort of "aggressive speculation," as Whitlock calls it, is unfortunately all too common amongst us media types. We're writers by trade and, just like most readers, have to constantly fight the temptation to skip to the last page to see how the story ends. Some writers, like Jason Whitlock and anyone else who thought Sean Taylor was in any way culpable for his own death, simple couldn't resist and wrote their own ending.
It's a natural inclination for people to try to make sense of the senseless, and "His former lifestyle killed him" was for a while at least a convenient storyline. As the facts seep out, though, they make less sense, not more. And that makes Sean Taylor's death all the more tragic.