AT TIMES during his four-year career it has seemed that the football has been the easiest aspect of life in the NFL for Sean Taylor to manage. Taylor, 24, one of the hardest-hitting safeties in the game, went to the Pro Bowl last year and, before missing the last two games with a knee injury, led the NFL with five interceptions this season. There are black marks on his résumé—he's been fined at least six times for late hits and other transgressions and in 2005 was accused of brandishing a gun during a fight in Miami—but this year Taylor's Redskins teammates saw him as more of a leader; during the off-season he helped convince free agents London Fletcher and Keenan McCardell to come to D.C. Some attributed the newfound maturity to the birth of his daughter, Jackie, in May 2006. "When I first signed with the Redskins, my perception of Sean was not very positive," says guard Ross Tucker, who joined the team last spring. "But I was surprised. He's extremely mature, respectful and a very good teammate."
Taylor was on the minds of all the Redskins on Monday as he underwent surgery in Miami for gunshot wounds suffered during an apparent robbery attempt at his home in Palmetto Bay, Fla. Taylor, who did not travel with the team to Tampa Bay because of his injury, was sleeping early Monday; he and his girlfriend were reportedly awakened by noises. Someone then broke into their bedroom and fired two shots, one hitting Taylor in the leg. His femoral artery was severed, and he spent most of Monday in a coma. (According to The Washington Post, Taylor's heart stopped twice during the surgery.) On Monday evening Taylor was reportedly responsive but was listed in critical condition.
It was the second time in a week that Taylor's home was broken into; on Nov. 19 coach Joe Gibbs excused him for a few days so he could deal with the first incident. On Monday several fans stood vigil outside the Redskins practice facility, praying for Taylor's survival. Said team vice president Vinny Cerrato, "[Doctors] told us to hope for a miracle."
TOMASSO DEROSA/SPORTPICS (TAYLOR RUNNING)
ON THE BALL Taylor had shown more focus this season.
G. FIUME/GETTY IMAGES (TAYLOR)