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Remembering 21: Gregg Williams

Editor's Note: One year ago tomorrow, Sean Taylor was shot during a break-in at his Miami area home and died the next day. We'll be posting recollections about Taylor's life, his football talent and his death under the category "Remembering 21."

Former Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was kind enough to spend a few minutes on the phone the other day to talk about the first anniversary of Sean Taylor's death, which will fall on Thanksgiving this year. The two men shared a special relationship, and I'll basically step out of the way here, and let Williams, who was assistant head coach -- defense with the Redskins and is now defensive coordinator in Jacksonville, speak.

"Not a day goes by that I don't think about him. It's hard to believe it's been a year. I really miss him. My family really misses him. He was a very special young man, and [the] best football player I ever coached."

Williams carries a coin that bears Taylor's likeness in his pocket every day, and writes No. 21 on his play card before each practice. And sometimes, the coach in him can't help but think about what he'd do differently with Taylor. He thinks he may have asked the safety to do too much, too soon, focusing too much on Taylor's incredible physical gifts without giving him enough time to settle into the transition to the NFL.

"Early on when he first came to DC, from my standpoint of looking for him to do too many things," Williams said. "I would blitz him because he was so physical and elusive in the blitz game. He could play in the run front and he could do so many thing that normal players couldn't do that sometimes me as a coordinator asked him to do too many things, but he never ever once complained."

Williams talked about the luxury of having a player like Taylor and wondered just how dominant the pairing of Taylor and LaRon Landry could have been.

"It would have been the toughest safety tandem in the National Football League for a lot of years," Williams said.

Taylor had a tendency to deviate from the system sometimes, with an instinct for the bal and a propensity for big plays. That made for some interesting moments for the coaching staff at times.

"Early in his career we used to laugh after the fact and rant after the fact," Williams said. "It could be frustrating to coaches when he would abort his responsibilities in the defense because of his instinctive knowledge of where the ball was going and he'd go get the ball and it would not be his responsibility to make that play, but he would still make that play.

"I would be angry and get after him about violating the defense and not playing it the way it was, but I'd have to shake my head, because he also knew where the ball was going and he was right in most situations."

By Jason La Canfora  |  November 25, 2008; 8:20 AM ET
Categories:  Remembering 21  
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Next: Remembering 21: Taylor's Greatest Hits

Comments

He was a great player, and would have been a HOFmer.

Posted by: Flounder21 | November 25, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Trial: March 3rd, 2009.

May the courts have no mercy.

Posted by: fushezzi | November 25, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Love this candor from Gregg...

Instead of dwelling on the tragedy and what could have been, I'm trying to stay positive about this and celebrate the memory of this transcendent player. How fortunate we were to witness his incredible talent, to have him wear the burgundy and gold...

Posted by: NateinthePDX | November 25, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to put my disdain for JLC aside here for a minute and say the guy's coverage of ST's passing last year was done with the utmost class and compassion.

If only JLC could have bottled that formula and applied it to his everyday coverage of the Skins.....

HTTR

RIP #21

Posted by: PASkinsFan2 | November 25, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Great story. "FCAJLC"

Posted by: skinsfanforracialfairness | November 25, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

the thug criminal scums have already skirted the death penalty...I am sure they will get more breaks...sigh...Sean was without question the best at his position that I have ever seen...rest in peace my friend

Posted by: jscrna | November 25, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Will the NFL be respectful and let the Skins wear some sort of #21 sticker/patch on sunday? My guess is probably not.

Posted by: REDneckSKINhead | November 25, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Hard to believe it's been a year. RIP little brother.

JM220

Posted by: icetotalpackage | November 25, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Ugh... thinking about a secondary of ST, LL, Springs, Horton, Smoot, Rogers, Hall.... boy.......

One of those losses that you can never really get over. Still miss ST.

Posted by: Rypien11 | November 25, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

21 will be forever in the minds and hearts of all skins fans. May his family somehow find peace and happiness again in their lives again some day.
---
Flounder,
define made. most film majors will tell you that Citizen Kane is the answer (AFI) for example, but if you examen their list you quickly learn that AFI has an over-dedication to the first golden age of Hollywood.

I personally think that the 2nd golden age of Hollywood, the 60's and 70's was far superior overall thanks to technological advances and understanding of artistic cinematography.

Bye the way I think we may have had a 3rd gold age that recently is coming to a close, the 3rd age being the age of digital filmmaking and using computers to improve special effects.

If I were to list my top 5 films of all time.

1. Easy Rider
2. Apocalypse Now
3. The Good the Bad and the Ugly
4. Lord of the Rings (I count it all as 1 film)
5. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Nate, well put.

Grace and Mercy to the Taylor Family during this most difficult time. Taken from this world much, much too soon.

Posted by: BeantownGreg | November 25, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I heard Zarniac on the mike o'meara show the other day talking about an interview she did with ST's father, should be on TV soon if it was not already and should be gut wrenching.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Great post. Not to be a jerk here, but I honestly wonder why #56 didn't get the same slack when he deviated from the scheme. I understand Taylor had bigger upside and was a younger player, but it seems like Gregggg was playing favorites here. Thoughts anyone?

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 25, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I still get tears in my eyes everytime I read about ST

RIP
Court have no mercy on the murderers!!!!

Posted by: rdscnz | November 25, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Because when Taylor deviated from the scheme he would make a big play normally an interception. When 56 deviated from the scheme it normally ment a huge running lane for the opposing RB, or a wide open receiver were 56 should have been.

Posted by: Flounder21 | November 25, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

RIP ST. Ironic that this anniversary would fall on the day we give thanks for the blessing we have. In regards, to ST I am thankful that I had the opportunity to witness him play, but more importantly, to witness a young man maturing into a person that still touches many peoples lives even after his passing.

Posted by: TWISI | November 25, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I honestly respect the opinions of others up here, but I confess that I have trouble with the recurring theme of 'vengeance' against the kids who perpetrated this act.

Again, I'm choosing to celebrate the man and his life in the most positive way, and to take solace in his memory.

I hope his teammates, especially the men on our defense, are able to channel their grief into a superlative effort this weekend in his honor.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | November 25, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Whatever the courts decide will not matter, the kids will be killed in prison, its practically a lock. Unless they get live in solitary.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

RIP #21

Fitting that one year later is on Thanksgiving, it'll remind me to keep everything in perspective and let everyone around me know how much they mean to me.

As a Skins fan, I'll always be thankful we could witness Sean Taylor for his short career.

Is the Giants game on national TV and will they air the ceremony? Not a huge fan of the idea that they're doing it before a game, but I'd really like to watch it anyway.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | November 25, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Great post. Not to be a jerk here, but I honestly wonder why #56 didn't get the same slack when he deviated from the scheme. I understand Taylor had bigger upside and was a younger player, but it seems like Gregggg was playing favorites here. Thoughts anyone?

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 25, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Because ST's "disobedience" resulted in a blown up play, where 56's resulted in a 75 yard touchdown. I'd call it justified favorites.

Posted by: SirAnonymoustheGreat | November 25, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Nate, I'd rather not even talk about the people who killed Sean Taylor. I haven't read a thing about them and don't care. I don't wanna know who they were, why they say they did it, where they worked, nothing.

They are nameless to me.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | November 25, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

From: http://chriscooley47.blogspot.com/2008/11/seattle.html

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH OUR TEAM :)

"No better way to celebrate a win than getting grabbed and punched in the balls by a bunch of offensive lineman on the bus. ...I don't really know why, but I thought it would be funny as hell to air hump him [a lineman] in while he was down, maybe catch it on the end of the film clip to have something to laugh about in meetings later that afternoon. "

The rest is on his site.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Love this candor from Gregg...

Instead of dwelling on the tragedy and what could have been, I'm trying to stay positive about this and celebrate the memory of this transcendent player. How fortunate we were to witness his incredible talent, to have him wear the burgundy and gold...

Posted by: NateinthePDX | November 25, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Nate the above statement makes me proud to be a fan of the same team as you,what a classy post....

the following statement is something that jlc would write...always finding something negative....


Great post. Not to be a jerk here, but I honestly wonder why #56 didn't get the same slack when he deviated from the scheme. I understand Taylor had bigger upside and was a younger player, but it seems like Gregggg was playing favorites here. Thoughts anyone?

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 25, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: jumbo5383 | November 25, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

but more importantly, to witness a young man maturing into a person that still touches many peoples lives even after his passing.

Posted by: TWISI

So true T. That's what made him my fav. To watch him grow and change his life for the better.

JM220

Posted by: icetotalpackage | November 25, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I also agree with Nate and Truth. Vengeance is not my bag, it demeans what Taylor was in the end.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I hope his teammates, especially the men on our defense, are able to channel their grief into a superlative effort this weekend in his honor.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | November 25, 2008 9:00 AM

Agreed. Let's hope we see something like the effort against the Bears last year (minus the knee injury to JC, of course).

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 25, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I also agree with Nate and Truth. Vengeance is not my bag, it demeans what Taylor was in the end.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I have been dreading this week all season. I miss Sean terribly but I've never been a fan of the schlocky tribute.

I'm also not a fan of the calls for the perpetual prison @$$ #ing of his killers. I think they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but outside of that, I wish them no ill will. Hopefully, the knowledge that they took a life and destroyed many others will weigh on their hearts and lead them to make the most out of the rest of their lives.

RIP Sean.

Posted by: Original_etrod | November 25, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Jumbo,

Hard to call something "negative" when it's prefaced with "great post". But I was asking an honest question (thus the "I honestly wonder") that I don't know the answer to. Everyone else here seems to understand that. In honor of Taylor, I'll leave it at that.

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 25, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

My favorite clips of Sean Taylor :


First is from ExtremeSkins, it's a video one of the members over there made. Really good :


http://redskins.torresa.com/videos/data/TaylorForever.wmv

It might take a bit to download but it really is worth if it you haven't seen it yet.


Second is a youtube clip I found this year during the week of the Lions game. It's ST putting the fear of god into one of their WR's pregame. Just awesome, gave me chills :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5WYINtYCuI

Posted by: TheTruth11 | November 25, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

God bless. Never forgot this remarkable man and player.

Posted by: Hail | November 25, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Alex I needed that laugh. Boys will be boys. LMAO

JM220

Posted by: icetotalpackage | November 25, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Am I missing something?

I see no vengence posts at all....or are we referring "in general?"

Posted by: fushezzi | November 25, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

JM you mean the cooley blog or my top 5 movies.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The Cooley blog Alex.

JM220

Posted by: icetotalpackage | November 25, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I'm still struck by what a senseless tragedy it is. So many lives wasted and changed forever.

Posted by: Gweez | November 25, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

does anyone know if ESPN The Magazine ran the same stories in their print magazine as they had online sometime last week about ST's death and how NFL players are dealing with security today?

If so, I want to pick that issue up just to keep hold of.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | November 25, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Never forget...RIP Reaper.

HTTR!

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | November 25, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Good clips truth, love the one of ST vs Det. That is what he was.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

etrod's top 5 movies (in no particular order:

Pulp Fiction
The Shawshank Redemption
It's a Wonderful Life
Jaws
Star Wars ep. 4

Posted by: Original_etrod | November 25, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Truth, yes they did. This weeks issue has all those articles.

Posted by: fushezzi | November 25, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

R.I.P #21 !!!!! Huge loss for us fans.. he was the most feared hitter in the league PERIOD.. and was getting more diciplined and matured in his game ( which is scary) and his life which makes his untimley passing even more sad. Of course our loss is nothing compared to his teamates, friends, and family.
*** His girlfriend/fiance' is actor Andy Garcia's neice... I read an interview where Garcia said ST's bravery "may" have saved his neice and baby girl. He also said the cops said another second and ST would have got the inturders with a machette..he was going after them!

Did you know in the Illinois state legislator that Barrack Hussien Obama voted AGAINST a bill to protect peoples from being sued by criminals after the law concluded they were in their right to defend themselves. I'm sure most of you voted for Obama. Do you think that the scum that broke into Sean's house should have rights.. the right to sue say "if" ST had gotten to them??? Hate to bring up politics but this is a good example of why we need the right to protect ourselves, homes, and familys !!!

Posted by: cwprice2 | November 25, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

as we are all setting around the dinner tables thursday, lets remember sean and his family, this is going to be a tough day for them. my prayers go out to his family. RIP 21

Posted by: drumer1972 | November 25, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

cw,

Agree on the right to protect yourself and your family, if someone breaks into my house the only right he/she will have is the right to be shot.

Posted by: Flounder21 | November 25, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Check out the post and if you are one of the lucky ones who has the money to bid on one of Sean's cars please do. Thanks

http://easternmotors.blogspot.com/2008/11/sean-taylor-auction.html

Posted by: cooleyfans | November 25, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Please understand that Sean Taylor's death--the death of any person that occurs in this manner is a tragedy. However,this was one that could have been avoided. Can we please remember that if Sean had set his house alarm, this whole thing might have never happened ? OF COURSE , this does not excuse the perpetrators/murderers and the courts should show them no mercy, but it DID NOT have to happen. That seems to be a lesson forgotten amidst the sorrow and grieving.

Posted by: jmsbh | November 25, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

i'm tryin to figure out why dummies like PASkinsFan2 bash la canfora for his work on this blog... ? Not like he has to sit around posting on this thing 24-7. he gives 5-6 updates a day (at least). your an idiot.

Posted by: mopp04 | November 25, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I also agree one has the right to protect oneself, I keep a baseball bat in my bedroom for such a purpose, granted B&E on my place would be near impossible. And this is not the thread for a in-depth policy talk.

But I would not make it illegal to counter sue about injury, because I can envision examples where one may go too far to protect ones home, torture for example.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

It's so hard to believe that it's been a year since I stumbled upon all of you when I was stuck in College Station, Texas, with no cable, desperately trying to get some information on the shooting. After hearing he got shot, I just assumed it was nothing serious and my first thought was that I hoped he could get better in time to play Dallas in 6 weeks. It wasn't until later that I realized how bad things were....But thank you all for making things a bit better to deal with.

I agree with Alex - let's keep politics and policies to other blogs, but just a bit of friendly advice - you cannot use deadly force to protect your property - people yes, property no.

Posted by: suzannepdc | November 25, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

R.I.P Reaper.... a guy who made "going to heroics" natural.

Posted by: gregskins | November 25, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Whe he had died..that morning I sat in my car for 15 minutes..just shocked!!!!!

Posted by: jimboy435 | November 25, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Remember that game against the Cowboys where Vincent forced a fumble and ST grabbed it, rand down the field and got a face mask to put the skins in FG range for the game wining FG....

Greatest 5 second in sports.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

R.I.P Reaper.... a guy who made "going to heroics" natural.

Posted by: gregskins

No question about it.

JM220

Posted by: icetotalpackage | November 25, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

RIP to the greatest player I have ever witnessed. I can say how proud i am to have been able to witness him throughout his college years and brief pro career in person. I used to get to watch Sean when he played my school and always rooted for him because he was one of those players thats is just above and beyond everyone else on the field.
I couldnt have been happier when we drafted him, especially given the competition a fellow U player but one i despise.
Taylor was so missunderstood by the media to the point where he had to cut them off due to false accusations and hatred of who he was.
No one can ever fill the void brought from this senseless act. One of Mami's own true Sons will never be forgotten, and he will live on in the memories of his fans all over and stongly so in the hearts of those that watched him in DC.

Posted by: Stu27 | November 25, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Very happy he will be in the ROF. hope the skins do their best to keep his number from being worn. I'd like them to go with the policy of having a player ask in person for it from either Seans father or daughter when she is older, which I understand is what they do with most the numbers in the ring.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Very happy he will be in the ROF. hope the skins do their best to keep his number from being worn. I'd like them to go with the policy of having a player ask in person for it from either Seans father or daughter when she is older, which I understand is what they do with most the numbers in the ring.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 9:58

Alex,

That number will never be worn again, the Redskins do not retire numbers but there are numbers that are not handed out and 21 will be one of them.

Posted by: Flounder21 | November 25, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Flounder,
I think you are probably right, I mean people were going to declare a war on the team when Danny Wurrfel and Sage Rosenfels were wearing no.'s 9 & 7 in camp, funny that Ramsey was in No. 11 too but no one cared about that. Maybe 20-25 years from now someone will wear 21 but even then I'd be shocked.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I just remembered one day I was flipping through the channels and I stumbled upon the Pro Bowl. I NEVER watch the Pro Bowl.

So I stay on the channel for literally about 20 seconds and I see Meast come out of nowhere and destroy the punter.

lol, that guy didn't know how to take a play off.


Was it Gregg Williams who also said he never found a player he didn't have to motivate in some way until he got Sean Taylor?

You hear those kinds of things every now and then, but Sean Taylor was and is one of the few where you have no doubt that's 100% true.

I'd love to say I was the initially upset about his death because of everything he was off the field, but that would be a lie. The Sean Taylor I knew was the football player. I don't care what team you're on, I have a great appreciation for players that go 100% every play and it really isn't something that can be learned.

And those players are what we all like to call "True Redskins". From John Riggins to Clinton Portis, those are the guys us Skins fan will follow loyally because of what they gave on the field, and Sean Taylor had all the physical tools to go with that hunger.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | November 25, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

beep

Posted by: alex35332 | November 25, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

beepbeep

Posted by: BeantownGreg | November 25, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Alex,

The real problem that year was Spurrier let some one were Bobby Mitchells 49.

Not sure of the number 11 why would Ramsey not be allowed to wear it.

Here is the list of unofficial retired numbers.

7 Joe Theismann, QB, 1974-85
9 Sonny Jurgensen, QB, 1964-74
28 Darrell Green, CB, 1983-2002
42 Charley Taylor, WR, 1964-77
43 Larry Brown, RB, 1969-76
44 John Riggins, RB, 1976-79, 1981-85
49 Bobby Mitchell, RB, 1962-68
51 Monte Coleman, LB, 1979-94
65 Dave Butz, DT, 1975-88
70 Sam Huff, LB, 1964-69 (Worn by Leonard Marshall in 1993)
81 Art Monk, WR, 1980-93

33 is the only number retired by the Skins.

Posted by: Flounder21 | November 25, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

PASkinsFan2, I appreciate you putting disdain for JLa's reporting aside for his coverage of ST last year and even now. But I would hope that fellow fans (and others) could do the same for Dan Snyder. At least for his handling of the tragedy. He handled the situation the best any owner could: with compassion, sincerity and integrity.

Posted by: trolly_time | November 25, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Sean was one of our greatest players ever. He was not flashy, didn't talk on or off the field, he let his actions talk. I have never seen a harded hitter in the league. TO would $H!^ himself knowing 21 was back there.
Sean you are my favorite Redskin.

I wonder is Wilbon 1 year later is going to write an apology for the column he wrote. We haven't forgot Wilbon.

Posted by: Laz1 | November 25, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Sean Taylor - Rest in Peace, and may your presence be felt on the field everytime the Burgandy and Gold take the field! May our fans always remember Sean Taylor for his plays on the field, and his passion for HIS team! May his Daughter learn about the father she will miss! God bless her, and his family, and God Bless the Redskins...

Posted by: SKINSFAN4LIFE1 | November 25, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

RIP #21.

Sean Taylor - The Eternal Redskin

Posted by: PBL4 | November 25, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Now that he's gone you really get a grasp on how special of a player he was. I remember laying down listening to the TV that morning and hearing he was shot and saying "man he's a strong dude, he'll get over a gun shot to the leg and will be back the next week playing". But he didn't come back and us Skins fans will never forget him. R.I.P #21

Posted by: ENJOYA | November 25, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I do not seek the worst kind of vengeance for 4 of the 5 suspects.

However, for Eric Rivera, aka the man who murdered Sean Taylor at his home in front of his fiance and daughter, I want him to rot in prison for the rest of his days, preferably getting beaten and raped repeatedly in prison by large groups of men.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 25, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I still cant get over this! D@mit I miss you 21! No disrespect to 48, but we could have been a different team with Sean. Easily was going to be the best safety ever in football. But thats football, not real life. He meant so much to our team and to us as fans. I dont even want to imagine what his family is going through during these times.

We were blessed to have you on our team.
Thank you! RIP Sean.

Posted by: MeeSoZorny | November 25, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Trial: March 3rd, 2009.

JUSTICE DAY FOR SEAN AND HIS FAMILY.

Posted by: memyselfI1 | November 25, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Sean WHO?

Posted by: mitt1968 | November 26, 2008 12:17 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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