The Bills React to the Taylor News
ORCHARD PARK--The mood at the Bills practice facility was very somber for much of the afternoon. Players spoke at great length and with great passion about their shock upon hearing the Sean Taylor news. Coach Dick Jauron addressed the issue at a team meeting this morning, along with some other team officials, offering counseling services to players who were affected and offering some philosophical thoughts. Players said Jauron was extremely emotional during his address: "trying to shine bright from our small corner of the earth," was how Coy Wire summarized it.
Jauron declined to go into the specifics of his speech, but said he would have acted the same way had the Bills not been playing the Redskins this week.
"I would be pretty certain that every team in the national football league would address that situation this morning," he said. "It's a tragedy and it touches us. The NFL, for me has always been a very special place. ...It is, to some degree, a close fraternity. People have a lot of pride, they are very competitive, but we all understand each other. It affects everybody. It affects everybody in our business."
"It's a terrible tragedy," he said. "There's just not a whole lot else to say about it. It just leaves you almost speechless."
Taylor's former teammate at Miami, Roscoe Parrish, was not at the facility today; the team said he was ill. Teammates said he was taking the news very hard, and in fact he had been regaling teammates with Taylor stories on Sunday night, before the shooting.
Josh Reed said he hardly slept last night, so torn up was he by the news. Former Redskin Derrick Dockery has been in contact with several ex-teammates; "it hurts, it hurts," he said.. Punter Brian Moorman said the news was "incredibly sad...words can't express it." Wire, one of the captains, said "I don't know how they're going to be able to play on Sunday." He was serious; he said several times he just couldn't imagine how the Skins would be able to take the field; "it's beyond me," he said.
Of course, the players were asked to compare this to the Kevin Everett situation from earlier in the year, when Everett was severely injured in the team's season opener and was thought to be perhaps permanently paralyzed. Some saw a slight parallel in terms of playing through tragedy, but all the players I spoke with said you couldn't even begin to compare the situations, and that by the time they took the field for another game they knew at least felt confident that Everett would survive. His teammates have been sending him video messages and wearing tribute t-shirts and hats, praying for him after every game and talking with him weekly. They said they went out to games saying they were playing for Everett, doing what he wanted them to do. And they said how much harder it would be to maintain that mindset when a teammate had been murdered in his home.
They also said, like Jauron, that the NFL is a fraternity, and that in some ways Taylor was like a brother to all of them, even players who hardly knew him. "Just losing a fellow player is definitely going to impact me," said safety George Wilson, who appeared to tear up a few times while talking about Taylor. "I had to stop and take a moment [when I heard the news]; I just sat there and reflected and meditated."
And yet, you could already get the small sense that the rest of the NFL will move on; media asked about the Bills' unsettled situation at running back, and their disappointing back-to-back losses, and safety Jabari Greet taped some hysterical bits for Dockery's local TV show. He went around asking teammates why it was acceptable to walk around naked in the locker room, "but if I was to come to your house and free myself, it would be looked down upon." Then he decided he wanted to test out the reaction if a journalist got naked and showered in the locker room, along with the players. He began lobbying the PR staff to make this happen, and I believe one TV journalist was actually allowed to strip down. There was much laughter. It feels like it's been a long time since I've seen athletes laughing.
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