The Washington Football Team made an announcement on Thursday that many fans felt was long overdue. The team is going to retire Sean Taylor’s No. 21 jersey.
Taylor’s number will be retired as a part of Sunday’s game against the Chiefs at FedEx Field, as Washington announced on its official Twitter account.
There will never be another 21 💛
On Sunday, we will officially retire Sean Taylor’s number
— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) October 14, 2021
MORE: Washington’s list of potential names down to 8 options
Taylor was the fifth pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and played 55 games for Washington. He totaled 305 tackles, 12 interceptions, 43 pass defenses, eight forced fumbles and two sacks during his three-and-a-half season career. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his last two seasons and is noted for his massive hit on Bills punter Brian Moorman in that contest.
Sadly, Taylor’s life and career were cut short, as he was murdered in November of 2007 after burglars broke into his Miami house. He was shot in the leg during the robbery and his femoral artery was severed. He was just 24 years old.
MORE: The state of Jon Gruden’s mega-deal after his resignation
Taylor was en route to becoming one of the best safeties in the NFL. He had five interceptions through nine 2007 games at the time of his death. He was a fan favorite, too, so it’s easy to understand why Washington is retiring his number.
However, the team has come under fire for the timing of the announcement. The NFL is currently embroiled in a scandal stemming from 650,000 emails generated from an investigation into Washington’s workplace culture under owner Dan Snyder. The emails, most of which were correspondences with decade-long general manager/team president Bruce Allen, have led to Jon Gruden’s departure from the Raiders and criticism for ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Many NFL personalities and media members took to Twitter and claimed that the announcement felt like an attempt to distract from Washington’s involvement in that scandal. They also noted Washington gave months of notice for the retirement of Bobby Mitchell’s jersey last year while giving just a few days notice about Taylor’s ceremony.
They didn’t retire it on the 10 year anniversary of his death in 2017.
They aren’t retiring it on the anniversary of his death this year.
They’re retiring it, with 4 days notice, in the midst of an off-field scandal.
Sean Taylor is the GOAT.
Don’t use him as a distraction. https://t.co/3kg4EbhEMy
— Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoTWW) October 14, 2021
They announced Bobby Mitchell’s jersey retirement in June for a September ceremony.
They announced Sean Taylor’s jersey retirement on Oct. 14th for an Oct. 17th ceremony.
Forgive my skepticism.
— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) October 14, 2021
Sean Taylor deserves this honor a thousand times over. Announcing this on Thursday of a week where your organization’s impropriety is again in the news is at BEST tone deaf/unaware, and at WORST the gross use of a man’s legacy as a deodorant for the situation
— Mike Golic Jr (@mikegolicjr) October 14, 2021
Sean Taylor is one of my favorite players ever. I know many who feel the same. But the timing of this feels gross. Honoring Taylor’s legacy doesn’t deserve to come with a cloud of questions like it will now
At best, WAS not seeing this is sad
At worst, WAS using it is sick https://t.co/gl9kPgvyIJ
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) October 14, 2021
Giving fans zero notice for the retirement of Sean Taylor’s number is both stupid and insulting.
— Burgundy Blog (@BurgundyBlog) October 14, 2021
I think it’s clear that, like many other past players and countless countless fans, Sean Taylor deserved and deserves better than this organization
— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) October 14, 2021
and they’re dumb enough to think such a thing would work. the worst part, if they’re doin gthis for cynical reasons, is they’ll ruin what should be a huge moment for taylor’s family and the fans. https://t.co/Q9DGFeI9Ix
— bomani (@bomani_jones) October 14, 2021
You’re dead last in the NFL in attendance.
You’re starving for good pub.
You have a beloved franchise great whose jersey is maybe the single most popular one that you have & is being retired.
And you give fans just three days of notice.
— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) October 14, 2021
Sean Taylor’s number’s been unofficially retired, and so this is a good thing, and I’m happy for all Taylor’s friends and family that it’s happening.
But the timing on this … I mean, come on … https://t.co/qwm1rkWI03
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 14, 2021
Using Sean Taylor as a PR stunt and retiring his number on 3 days notice is everything you need to know about how slimey Dan Snyder can be. Truly just a bad person through and through.
— Nate (@BarstoolNate) October 14, 2021
MORE: What’s wrong with the Chiefs’ defense, explained
“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,” a team spokesperson said, per Matthew Paras.