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Posted at 7:19 PM ET, 03/ 3/2011

Should O.J. Atogwe, or any other Redskins player, wear No. 21?

By Cindy Boren

In signing O.J. Atogwe, the Redskins have made a move that is drawing solid reviews.

At 29, he should be a defensive fixture for the team for years to come. And he has plenty of personality and a fabulous toy action-figure and comic-book collection (via Matt Terl at the Redskins blog). There's no reason to think he won't be an extremely popular player.

He also wore No. 21. That's a number that no Redskins player has worn since it belonged to Sean Taylor, but, with the arrival of Atogwe -- who may not even want the number -- is it time to consider giving it to him or to any player?

This isn't an easy topic, with memories of Taylor's presence on the field and his death still fresh. And certainly there are other players who've played significant roles with the Redskins and wore the number before Taylor.

The debate began last week, when Ryan John Estorninos raised the question at Riggo's Rag:

Sean Taylor is my all-time favorite Redskin because of the way he played the game on the field, and knowing that he died protecting his family. We now have a totally new regime in charge. A group that was totally not connected to Taylor or the incident. I have a feeling that a new no. 21 could hit the field, but are we ready to see it?

At, Brent Carothers wrote:

But for a short generation of Redskins fans, Sean Michael Maurice Taylor was the most impressive player we've ever followed. He was fierce and explosive. He made every play exciting. He left his last ounce of energy and spirit on the field for us... the very least we can do in return is to hereafter leave his number off of it.
Many players have previously worn #21 in Washington, including some figures without whom the Redskins' history would be incomplete. But to me and legions of others, its most recent owner will forever hold a very special place in our hearts.

I raised the question on Twitter last week and got a wide range of answers. Does your opinion change with the signing of Atogwe?

No. Never, in my opinion. RT @CindyBoren Is it time to consider giving #21 to another #Redskin?less than a minute ago via Plume  

@CindyBoren @burgundy 21 is only for Sean Taylorless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

@CindyBoren no way!!!! 21 is for one person only, who was robbed of his life and would of no doubt had a career worthy of number retirement!less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

@CindyBoren @Burgundy Ken Houston and Pat Fischer were both more to the Redskins as safeties, and their jersey numbers aren't retired.less than a minute ago via web

@CindyBoren @Burgundy I don't know I mean its going to be weird whenever they do it... #Redskin #Redskinsless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

@CindyBoren Yes it is time to let someone have #21 if they request it.less than a minute ago via Swift

@CindyBoren Yep. He was originally 36 let's move on because soon we will not have any numbers to disperse. He only played 3 yrs also.less than a minute ago via Twitter for Android

The Redskins aren't a team that retires numbers. Last August, when Russ Grimm was going into the Hall of Fame, owner Dan Snyder said there were no plans to retire Grimm's number but that the team's approach could change. "We haven't retired numbers much here, before I got here," Snyder said. "I think that we're going to look at things in the future a little bit."

By Cindy Boren  | March 3, 2011; 7:19 PM ET
Categories:  NFL, Redskins  
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Next: O.J. Atogwe says he won't be No. 21 with Redskins


He should not wear 21. No way. No.

Posted by: mjwies11 | March 3, 2011 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I know the Redskins don't retire numbers but in this case the pain of Sean Taylor's death can still be felt rather than just remembered. It just seems too soon. Maybe someday but not yet.

Posted by: will_ga | March 3, 2011 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Although Sean Taylor's death was tragic, he hardly played long enough to merit retiring a number in his honor. Do other teams retire numbers of other players who die unexpectedly or prematurely? Whether Atogwe gets it or not, I don't see any reason to retire 21.

Posted by: GiantLingam | March 3, 2011 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I own a white #21 Sean Taylor jersey and I say let O.J. wear this number if he likes. At some point, we all have to move on with the number thing. Atogwe is a good player and gives the Skins the best safety tandem they have had since The Grim Reaper was playing alongside Double L. Make it happen ... gotta accept change!

Posted by: gilk | March 3, 2011 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Good morning Cyn City (still love this name for you). No the number shouldn't be worn be any other player. I have a Reaper 21 jersey and have not worn it since his death. (also have a picture of him in my living room) To me it's not just about how he played on the field but that he gave his life protecting his family. There is no greater sacrifice than to lay down your life for your brother or sister

Posted by: jm220 | March 4, 2011 7:44 AM | Report abuse

. . . and the canonization of Sean Taylor continues. Can't imagine how legendary he's going to be in another ten years.

Posted by: Gunga2009 | March 4, 2011 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Never! There are some numbers that should never be worn again. #9, #44, #28 but most of all #21.

Posted by: Eradicator | March 4, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

#21 will never be worn again in Washington and his number does not need to be retired.

#33 (the greatest QB of all time, Sammy Baugh) is the only retired # we have.

We have not retired #28, #44, #81, #7, #9, etc., but nobody will wear those numbers out of respect to the legend who wore it last and wore it best.

Posted by: jgarrisn | March 4, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Think the Redskins should retire #21. The redskins drafted Sean Taylor and it's the only NFL team he played for. He passed away a redskin and #21 should retire also. In memory of Sean Taylor. RIP

Posted by: lvetor | March 5, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

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