Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thousands attend Sean Taylor's funeral

MIAMI - Thousands of people attended the funeral of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor on Monday morning.

The service, held at an arena on the campus of Florida International University, took place one week after Taylor was fatally shot during a break-in at his home. He died early the following morning at the age of 24.

Taylor's casket was surrounded by large bouquets of flowers and was placed in front of a large video screen which showed highlights from his playing career. Part of the bouquet was arranged in the design of a No. 21, Taylor's jersey number.

Several speakers addressed the crowd of mourners, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, Redskins running back Clinton Portis and Reverend Jesse Jackson.

"The NFL is proud of Sean Taylor, not just of his Pro Bowl ability," Goodell said. "He loved football, and football loved him back.

"But more important is what he was as a man and what he was becoming as a man, for lots of people here today - fans, family, admirers. He made an impact on all of us."

Taylor was the first player drafted together by Gibbs and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who also was in attendance.

"Over the four years, the thing that excited me most - it was about Sean's life," Gibbs said. "It was not about football. (It) was the maturing process in his life."

Portis, also a teammate of Taylor's at the University of Miami, donned large sunglasses and spoke of the Pro Bowl safety's ferocity and talent on the field.

"There's nobody who played in the NFL with more heart than Sean," Portis said. "If there was anything that made me more motivated to play football, it was seeing Sean hitting someone, knowing Sean was on our team.

"I don't fear much. But if I was on the opposing team, I would fear Sean's No. 21."

After telling the mourners to stand and applaud Taylor, Jackson spoke about violence in America and the growing problems regarding the availability of guns.

"Sean was a safety, a tackle of last resort," Jackson said. "He stood between the other team and a touchdown. If we learn from his death, we've saved many a touchdown."

Former Redskins linebacker Lavar Arrington, current Miami coach Randy Shannon, agent Drew Rosenhaus and various family members and friends also spoke at the service.


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