From all accounts Taylor’s life changed with the birth of his daughter 18 months ago. His bad boy ways had landed him in trouble on and off the field. He was suspended by the league after spitting in the face of a player and had a history of gun-related legal issues. Having a baby changed all of that.
Antrel Rolle has known Taylor for most of his life. The two played football together at the age of six for the Homestead Hurricanes and went on to play together at the University of Miami from 2001-2003. Rolle, a cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals, says Taylor was being targeted for more than three years.
During an interview with ESPN, Rolle said Taylor lived scared everyday of his life while in Miami. “It was not a burglary under any circumstances,” Rolle said. “Lot of people knew Sean. There was a lot of jealously, lot of envious people. A lot of people he no longer hung out with.”
Miami-Dade police are still investigating a link to a Nov. 17 break-in at Taylor’s home, in which police said someone pried open a front window, went through drawers and left a kitchen knife on a bed. If Rolle’s assessment is correct, the death of Taylor may provide a glimpse at the struggle NFL players have in pulling away from the thug lifestyle.
Close to a year ago, Broncos’ cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting following an argument at a Denver nightclub. University of Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata was sot to death in November 2006 several miles from Taylor’s home. Then there’s the brawl with Adam “Pacman” Jones of the Tennessee Titans at a Las Vegas strip club where three people were shot.
After that incident, Robert Susnar, co-owner of the Minxx Gentleman’s Club, told ESPN “the NFL is starting to look like an organized crime family, and I find that objectionable.”
Sad is the jealously that brews hostility among those frustrated because of their own condition. Rolle said there are jealous people who targeted Taylor. People he once hung out with before the birth of his daughter. Could it be they reaped the benefits of Taylor’s lifestyle until he decided to rid himself of all the bad that came with hanging with the boys? Could it be that separating oneself from the thug life brings consequences that those on the outside don’t understand?
Of course all of this is speculation. For now no one knows who shot Taylor. We do know his life had changed. We know this wasn’t the first break in at his home and that a knife was placed on a pillow. Burglars normally don’t leave weapons on pillows. It was a warning.
Taylor died at the age of 24. “It’s hard to expect a man to grow up overnight,” said Clinton Portis, the star running back with the Redskins. "But ever since he had his child, it was like a new Sean, and everybody around here knew it. He was always smiling, always happy, always talking about his child."
So, I’ll wear number 21 in honor of Taylor and his desire to change. I’ll think of him on Sunday when I preach my sermon. I will think of him the next time I watch a football game. What will I think? Change is a good thing, but it’s much better when you don’t have to deal with the pain that comes with change. There are so many people who refuse to let it happen. They would rather see you suffer with them than to grant you the space to become the man God wants you to be.