The Washington Football Team will retire Sean Taylor’s No. 21 on Sunday against the Chiefs, the team announced Thursday morning. The team will hold a pregame ceremony with members of Taylor’s family at FedEx Field.
The plan to honor Taylor has been on the books for several weeks, The Athletic‘s Ben Standing reports. Fans will receive rally towels.
Taylor, a safety, was selected by Washington as the fifth overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft out of Miami, where he was a part of the Hurricanes‘ 2001 national title team. He played for four seasons in Washington until his murder in 2007.
“I came into the NFL the same year as Sean Taylor and immediately his athletic ability, resilience, grit, and relentless work ethic set him apart. I and many others looked to him as a role model,” team president Jason Wright said in a statement. “The fact that he was tragically taken so early hurt our player community, but also our fans, coaches, and staff.
“We will continue to remember him and hold him up as an example of professionalism and excellence, and we will all strive to mirror his excellence in our own ways.”
No Washington player has worn No. 21 since his death 14 years ago and no player will again to honor Taylor, who in four seasons played 55 games, making 12 interceptions, eight forced fumbles and 305 tackles. He was a two-time All-Pro.
Sammy Baugh and Bobby Mitchell are the only other Washington players to have their numbers retired by the organization.
By midday Thursday, a large chunk of Washington fans expressed frustration that the team gave only three days notice for Taylor’s ceremony. Team president Jason Wright apologized for the lack of of notice.
“We wanted to do something long overdue by retiring players’ numbers,” Wright tweeted. “Months ago we planned for Bobby Mitchell and Sean Taylor to be the first two. Seeing the reaction, I’m very sorry that the short notice does not properly reflect the impact Sean had.”
The news comes after emails revealed racist, sexist and homophobic language used by former Raiders coach Jon Gruden over a seven-year period in correspondence to then-Washington team president Bruce Allen. Additionally, the NFL recently concluded an investigation into the Washington Football Team and the widespread sexual harassment and abuse within the organization.
On Wednesday, a group of former WFT employees called for the NFL’s top sponsors to pressure the league to release the findings of its investigation.
(Photo by Toni L. Sandys / The Washington Post via Getty Images)