Washington announced on Thursday that Taylor’s No. 21 will be retired during the team’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The move drew scrutiny from fans as being too short notice while some even saw the announcement as a PR move as the organization was once again linked to wrongdoing from former team president Bruce Allen.
Gabe Taylor, who plays safety at Rice University, told 106.7 The Fan he found out earlier in the week.
“No, I have not heard about it for a while. I found out probably, I’ll say like four days ago,” he told the radio show.
Taylor added it’s still an honor to be at the event.
“It means a lot. Washington is like a second home. I’m excited. I’m proud. And I can say that my brother’s number is retired in the NFL.”
Ryan Clark, a former NFL player-turned-ESPN personality, defended the move by Washington. He said he’s known about it for months and was talked to former running back Tim Hightower about the team’s alumni weekend.
Jason Wright, the current Washington team president, issued an apology statement about the timing of the ceremony.
“We thought that saving the news for a game week reveal was the best way to focus the message on Sean and his legacy,” Write said in the note. “We didn’t realize that so many of you wanted to make a trip to FedExField to be present for this moment — a true lack of understanding of what you, the lifeblood of this franchise, needed to mourn our collective loss and celebrate Sean’s legacy,” he said.
“As the guy who really wanted us to start honoring players better and differently — in line with what they paid in the blood, sweat, and tears — I’m angry and sad that we messed up your opportunity to honor Sean in person this weekend. I feel a pit in my stomach knowing how we have let so many of you down.”
Washington selected Taylor with the No. 5 pick of the 2004 NFL Draft. He was a two-time Pro Bowler before he was killed in a botched robbery attempt in 2007.
Taylor’s family will join the team for the ceremony on the field, players will wear a stick to pay tribute to the defensive back and coaches will wear a No. 21 lapel pin. Taylor’s only the third player in franchise history to have their jersey retired.
A team spokesperson told ESPN the team started to plan the ceremony before the season.
“We have been planning this weekend’s tribute to Sean Taylor since before the start of the season in partnership with Sean Taylor’s family and as part of our Alumni weekend activities. … We apologize to fans who would have liked more notice and will continue to share with fans ways we will be celebrating Sean Taylor’s legacy over the next month,” the statement said.