|Sean Taylor's father pays visit as Redskins wrap up trying season|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 06 January 2008 13:44|
``It's priceless,'' Pedro Taylor said. ``Life is priceless, but when you give love and you receive it back, it's amazing. And we just say thank you.''
Sunday was wrap-up day for the Washington Redskins, featuring the team meeting that always follows the last game of the season. Beforehand, Taylor had his own season-ending visits with several coaches. He received a copy of ``Racing to Win'' from Gibbs and gave updates on his son's family, including the late safety's 1-year-old daughter, Jackie.
``She's doing great,'' Taylor said. ``We'll continue to get memorabilia and things to remind her of her father and who he was.''
There was the usual assortment of great performances, close wins, agonizing losses, great catches, lousy throws and questionable calls during the last four months, but this Redskins season will be remembered first and foremost for No. 21. It was the margin of victory in the final regular-season win over Dallas and the margin of defeat in the playoff loss to Seattle. It was seen everywhere on helmets, jerseys, T-shirts and hats - Santana Moss even created a hand gesture that spelled ``21'' - all in memory of the player who wore that number on his jersey, the talented defensive back who was shot at his Miami home Nov. 26 and died a day later at the age of 24.
``This is a season that nobody who was a part of will forget,'' linebacker Marcus Washington said. ``We lost a teammate, we lost a friend, and I think you really understand how important family is, how important it is not to take anything for granted.''
Pedro Taylor spoke to the Redskins the day after his son died, urging them to win because that's what his son would have wanted. The players took it as a rallying cry to ``Win for Sean'' and embarked on a mission to do just that. After their teammate's funeral, they won four straight to climb from 5-7 to 9-7 and claim the NFC's final playoff berth, becoming a team of destiny that finally ran out of steam Saturday in a 35-14 loss to the Seahawks in the NFC wild-card round.
``I'm feeling like the season ended too early,'' running back Clinton Portis said. ``But I think there was something greater maybe this season than winning the Super Bowl. You win Super Bowls, your team splits up and goes their separate ways. From what this team went through and endured this year, I doubt if anybody will ever split up and go their separate ways. I think there was a bond formed that will last forever.''
While that might be true in spirit, the reality of the NFL says that the Redskins will have their share of roster turnover after the usual series of tough decisions in the offseason. The team is substantially over the salary cap and will have to renegotiate several contracts or release several veterans to even have a chance of participating in free agency. At least 10 players are currently set to count more than $5 million each against the cap in 2008.
``I'd love to stay in this area,'' said cornerback Shawn Springs, whose salary alone would be $5 million next season. ``I'm from this area, I have a home here, but I understand that it is a business and you never know where you're going to be from year to year.''
The No. 1 contract of concern belongs to Gibbs, who'll be entering the final year of a five-year deal. Gibbs has said repeatedly that he intends to return, and a few weeks ago said he would be open to discussing a contract extension with owner Dan Snyder during the offseason. An official within the league told The Associated Press on Sunday that Snyder is prepared to offer such an extension. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no negotiations had yet to take place.
Gibbs made no mention of his plans in Sunday's meeting with the players. The coach was scheduled to address reporters Monday.
``Everybody assumes he's going to be coming back,'' linebacker London Fletcher said.
Then there's Todd Collins, who played extraordinarily well during the four-game winning streak despite not having started a game in 10 years. The 36-year-old quarterback is slated to become a free agent and must decide whether he wants to return in what would likely again be a backup role to Jason Campbell, who missed the final four games with a knee injury but remains the quarterback of the future.
``I'd like to have an opportunity to play,'' Collins said. ``I think I can still contribute and help teams win.''
The Redskins, who improved from 5-11 to 9-7, can take heart that in the promising performances from a number of young players, including LaRon Landry, Anthony Montgomery, Stephon Heyer and Reed Doughty. Portis returned from a season wrecked by injury to rush for 1,200 yards, and a defense that ranked next-to-worst in the league in 2006 regained its swagger with a simplified scheme and the leadership of Fletcher.
But such developments are minor footnotes to the most trying season the Redskins have ever faced. ``Win for Sean'' is a feeling will remains strong, even though the games are done.
``It ain't over, man,'' defensive end Phillip Daniels said. ``I feel like for me, I've got to dedicate this offseason to Sean and come back stronger. And that's how it is. And I think every guy is going to do that. Sean will live with us forever, and it's not going to change.''