NFL fans in uproar over 'disrespectful' tribute to late Sean Taylor

The Washington Commanders' tribute to late NFL player Sean Taylor, pictured here at their home ground.
The Washington Commanders' tribute to late NFL player Sean Taylor. Image: Getty

NFL fans have slammed the Washington Commanders as ‘tone deaf’ and an ‘embarrassment’ after the franchise unveiled an underwhelming memorial tribute to former player Sean Taylor. Taylor enjoyed four incredibly successful seasons as a defensive force with Washington, before he died in 2007.

The Commanders decided to honour Taylor’s memory with what they described as a ‘memorial installation’ to be unveiled prior to their clash with the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday (Monday morning AEDT). Many Washington fans had assumed that meant the team would build a statue for the former first round pick, but they were soon left gobsmacked by what the Commanders eventually unveiled.

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Instead of a statue, there was simply a wire mannequin sporting Taylor’s number 21 jersey. Fans were quick to voice their displeasure on social media, labelling the installation as ‘disrespectful’.

Prior to the unveiling the Commanders had sent out a press release. But at no point did they promise there would be a statue built for Taylor.

“Sean's life was tragically cut short but his impact continues to reverberate through our Burgundy & Gold family,” co-owners Dan and Tanya Snyder said in the release. “This Sunday, on the 15th anniversary of his passing, we honour one of our greats and his legacy by unveiling a permanent installation, so his memory is always with us when we take the field on game day.”

A Washington Commanders fan, pictured here holding a sign commemorating former player Sean Taylor.
A Washington Commanders fan holds a sign commemorating former player Sean Taylor. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

NFL fans left raging over tribute to Sean Taylor

In addition to the memorial installation, the Commanders also wore special ‘21’ helmet decals during the game and limited-edition Sean Taylor Legacy Project merchandise was be available for purchase. Despite this, fans did not hold back in their assessment of the installation, heavily criticising the lack of attention to detail and care put into creating the tribute to Taylor.

Among the features called out by fans were a number of inaccuracies in the playing uniform the mannequin was dressed in. The playing jersey used was a Nike one, which Taylor never wore during his career as the NFL uniform provider at the time was Reebok.

Dan and Tanya Snyder, pictured here in Washington.
Washington Commanders co-CEOs and co-owners Dan and Tanya Snyder. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The mannequin was also wearing Adidas soccer boots, rather than American football cleats, while Taylor’s unique socks and taped facemark were also absent.

During his four seasons in DC, Taylor recorded 12 interceptions, forced eight fumbles, and tallied 305 tackles. He was named to the Pro Bowl in two of his three complete seasons and was a second-team All-Pro in 2007.

His No. 21 has been retired by Washington and his name has been enshrined in the team’s Ring of Fame and their 90 Greatest Players List. He died at the age of 24 after he was shot dead during an armed robbery of his home.

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