Nearly 14 years after he was shot and killed at just 24, former Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor will be recognized in a historic ceremony ahead of Washington Football Team's Week 6 game against the Chiefs on Sunday. Since its inception in 1932, the franchise has retired just two jersey numbers -- that of Hall of Famers Sammy Baugh and Bobby Mitchell. This weekend, Taylor's famous No. 21 jersey will officially become the third to hang from the rafters, with the late defensive back's family on hand for the tribute.
Nearly 100 team alumni will be honored at FedExField on Sunday, as Washington announced, with Taylor's tribute headlining the day of reflection. Taylor's family will be on the field for a pregame ceremony celebrating the former first-round pick's career, as well as the retirement of his No. 21, which hasn't been issued since his death in 2007.
The team will also commemorate the renaming of the road leading to FedExField as Sean Taylor Road, with both family and friends of Taylor onsite before the game. The first 10,000 fans to enter the stadium Sunday will get commemorative Sean Taylor rally towels, while players and staff will be wearing No. 21 stickers or pins that pay homage to the safety.
"I came into the NFL the same year as Sean Taylor and immediately his athletic ability, resilience, grit, and relentless work ethic set him apart. I and many others looked to him as a role model," Washington team president Jason Wright said in a statement. "The fact that he was tragically taken so early hurt our player community, but also our fans, coaches, and staff. We will continue to remember him and hold him up as an example of professionalism and excellence, and we will all strive to mirror his excellence in our own ways."
Taylor, who was shot and killed during a burglary of his home on Nov. 27, 2007, during his fourth season in the NFL, was posthumously voted a Pro Bowler and All-Pro, as well as inducted into Washington's Ring of Fame, in 2008.
Before his untimely death, the Miami product had established himself as one of the game's top up-and-coming players at his position, as well as one of the NFL's hardest hitters. He missed just two games during his first three seasons, logging a career-high 111 tackles in 2006, and then recorded a career-high five interceptions during his abbreviated nine-game 2007 campaign.