The Washington Football Team will retire Sean Taylor’s No. 21 jersey over the weekend in a move that raised eyebrows amid the fallout around Jon Gruden’s emails.
Washington made the announcement Thursday the team would honor Taylor with the ceremony.
“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.”
Washington selected Taylor with the No. 5 pick of the 2004 NFL Draft. He was a two-time Pro Bowler before he was killed in a botched robbery attempt in 2007.
Washington plays the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Taylor’s family will join the team for the ceremony on the field, players will wear a stick to pay tribute to the defensive back and coaches will wear a No. 21 lapel pin. Taylor’s only the third player in franchise history to have their jersey retired.
NFL fans noticed the odd timing of the jersey retirement announcement. The NFL has been urged to release emails that were a part of the league’s investigation into alleged workplace misconduct. Gruden’s damning emails were messages sent to former team president Bruce Allen.
A team spokesperson told ESPN the team started to plan the ceremony before the season.
“We have been planning this weekend’s tribute to Sean Taylor since before the start of the season in partnership with Sean Taylor’s family and as part of our Alumni weekend activities. … 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,” the statement said.