NFL fans are highly upset with the Commanders' inability to properly honor slain sports star, Sean Taylor. After being promised a statue of the athlete, shot and killed on Nov. 27, 2007, the team instead presented a wire human form wearing a generic team uniform.

By Reginald Williams,
Special to the AFRO

On the 15th anniversary of the tragic death of Sean Taylor the Commanders attempted to honor their twice-named Pro Bowl free safety with the unveiling of what they called a “statue.” 

Fans and Taylor supporters nationwide were immediately dismayed by Taylor’s rendering in the lobby of FedEx Field. Many felt the Commanders’ Memorial to the late athlete was disrespectful.

“Sean Taylor deserved a statue,” former athlete and ESPN commentator, Robert Griffin III said to the 937,000 followers on his Facebook account. 

He wasn’t alone in his sentiments.

“Not a jersey and pants. Come on man, do better,” said Vic Taylor, a lifelong Washington fan whose office, located on Brightseat Rd., intersects Sean Taylor Rd. “There should be a bronze like Rocky [the statue erected in Philadelphia honoring Sylvester Stallone’s fictional character] or the Tom Landry type in Dallas.

Fans took the Commanders to task, consistently describing the Commanders’ decision as “unbelievable,” “disappointing” and “disrespectful.”

“Dan Snyder has done it again. The Sean Taylor statue is a wire mannequin from T.J. Maxx. What an owner,” tweeted Kevin McNamee.

“This is so disappointing. I feel for the Taylor family. If someone told me they were creating a statue of my late father, and it turned out it was a mannequin with his work badge and favorite clothes, I’d be heartbroken. They [the family] deserve better, and so does Sean Taylor,” tweeted Jake Suesserman.

“Washington always finds a way to embarrass itself,” another sports fan, Safid Deen, tweeted. “Not a statue, but a mannequin for Sean Taylor. This is literally like a display in a store. Unbelievable.”

In 2021, the team felt the fan’s wrath when they re-dedicated Sean Taylor Rd. in front of porta-potties.

Now, Taylor is being honored with what seems to be a jersey and football pants stretched over a human form made of wires, similar to the material used for coat hangers. The arms and legs do not resemble the likeness of the athlete at all- other than being the general shape of a human body. Only a helmet sits atop the form, with no head or face inside.

Rather than dress the supposed statue in an authentic uniform, the mannequin wore a generic one. Taylor’s pants were designed with the Reebok logo, while his jersey adorned the Nike logo. Taylor, fatally shot by home intruders in 2007, never wore a uniform sponsored by Nike, which became the NFL’s official uniform provider in 2012. Taylor’s face mask was without the customary tape display he was noted for.

Debra Brown, a season ticket holder who lives within a mile of FedEx Field, said the statue was disappointing. “I just want them to get rid of him [Snyder].”

Complimenting the numerous Twitter memes showcasing coat hangers to mock the Commanders was a recently unveiled wax figure of slain Hip Hop artist and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle. The work of art could be mistaken for a real-life clone. Disgruntled fans presented the Nipsey Hussle wax figure, created by Mr. Officials, to highlight the artist’s attention to the details.

Despite the disposition of most fans, Jamal Johnson, Taylor’s brother, appreciated the honor and believes there is more to come.

“Everybody is entitled to an opinion,” said Johnson. “With them [Commanders] building a new stadium, this may just be a step. I don’t feel like the statue is the finished product. As time goes on, they’ll have a statue more appealing to the public. “

Many Washingtonians questioned the value of Jason Wright, the president of the Commanders. Wright is the first Black team president in the history of the NFL.

Taylor, the fifth pick in the 2004 draft, was known for an all-pedal,no-brake approach, which often resulted in bone-crushing hits on opponents. The NFL voted him the hardest-hitting player in the league.   

In the heart of many Washingtonians, the University of Miami standout represented the essence of the three-time Super Bowl Champs. 

Twice named to the Pro Bowl, Taylor, while home in Florida nursing a knee injury, died on Nov. 27, 2007, when he was shot in his upper thigh, severing his femoral artery. Taylor’s injury led to massive blood loss. He was 24 years old.

Reginald Williams is the author of “A Marginalized Voice: Devalued, Dismissed, Disenfranchised & Demonized.” Please email bookreggie@reginaldwilliams.org or visit amvonlinestore.com for more information.

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Reginald Williams

Special to the AFRO