That player would, of course, be Sean Taylor. After practice
in the morning, he went to patch up his reputation with the media. After the
afternoon session, he worked on repairing his reputation with the fans. And during
the two practice sessions, he did what he does best; he played football. His
abilities in that area will certainly be the best medicine in fixing his image.
The session with the fans was extraordinary and hasn't been covered much elsewhere. His face beaded with sweat, Taylor worked his way down the fence at Redskins Park, shaking hands, signing jerseys, hats, footballs, yearbooks, scraps of paper, anything that his Sharpie would write on. He took care of kids and adults, accommodating virtually everyone who wanted his autograph. Taylor even posed for a few pictures with fans.
It seemed to be one of those nice, spontaneous moments but it soon became evident that it wasn't. Soon after Taylor came over to the fence, a couple of men with large, stuffed duffel bags worked their way into the middle of the crowd. Inside the bags were good quality black backpacks, just in time for back to school, bearing an embroidered "ST 21" logo. They were passed out to kids in the crowd.
Planned or not, Taylor's actions certainly boosted his standing with the several hundred who were there. Most of the members of the media, however, were not there as they were off pursuing other stories. A TV reporter tried to get a comment out of Taylor, but was unsuccessful.
As far as his session with the media, it was refreshing to
see that he didn't come out and read a canned statement like some others who
have legal problems such as ones stemming from shoving cameramen. While Taylor
was far from candid—he wouldn't even say what his weight was—he did take
questions from the press, also a departure from the standard playbook.
One field, Taylor was, well, Taylor. Even after a season of seeing the linebacker-sized Taylor line up in the defensive backfield, it still causes one to do a double take. He was hustling out there, once going full out in an obviously-futile effort to catch David Patten after the receiver caught a deep pass. In the 11-on-11 drills he was blitzing frequently, chasing down Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell. Late in the afternoon session he snared an interception off of a tipped ball, drawing props from his defensive teammates and a cheer from the crowd.