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Honoring a Cane’s Legend – Sean Taylor

We are now into fall camp. There’s plenty of activity on Greentree Practice Field, as the Miami Hurricanes prepare for the 2022 season. But last week Mario Cristobal was asked about a past great — Sean Taylor, whose life and career were tragically cut short in 2007, while a member of the Washington Redskins.

Should his jersey number(26) while at ‘the U’ should be retired?

To which coach Cristobal answered: “Well, number one, you’ve got to earn it. I think some guys have asked for it. And I do not disrespect anyone and not reward them any number, but if you’re going to wear that, you better be the baddest son of a gun on the planet, OK? And I think we have guys that can work themselves there. And if someone gets to that point, then maybe it’s a consideration. 26 — one person asked for it and I just felt that it wasn’t quite the level that it needed to be to wear that number the way it should be worn.”

For the record, since Taylor’s last season at Miami in 2003 (and more on that later) the likes of Anthony Reddick, Ray Ray Armstrong and most recently, Gurvan Hall, have worn that number.

No disrespect to those guys, but Cristobal has a point. You need to be a special player to given 26 from here on out. Much the way Michigan only gives out #1 to elite guys. If I’m not mistaken this began with the great Anthony Carter, and since then guys like Greg McMurtry, Derrick Alexander, David Terrell and Braylon Edwards have been given the honor. Syracuse, has a similar tradition for number 44 (which was worn by the legendary Jim Brown, then Ernie Davis and Floyd Little).

Taylor was a generational talent. I was there on a rain soaked afternoon in Tallahassee in 2003 when he played the greatest all-around game I have ever seen from a safety. He picked off two Chris Rix passes (taking one 49 yards to the house as he zig-zagged through a maze of Seminoles who were slipping-and-sliding all over the wet turf), breaking up a few others, and providing physical run support in the box.

That season he notched 10 interceptions (for three touchdowns) on his way to gaining All-American honors and being named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. How he didn’t win the Thorpe Award is up there with the Pernell Whitaker-Julio Cesar Chavez draw, as one of the great robberies of modern sports history.

At 6’3, 220 pounds he could run a legitimate 4.3, and could’ve been a standout at any of the skill positions on both sides of the ball. He scored touchdowns on a reverse on a punt return (versus Pitt in 2002), a fake punt(against Syracuse in 2002), and interceptions. Taylor was the very definition of a playmaker.

You had to see him play in person to really appreciate his talent.

Which is why he should be honored and remembered. And Cristobal has the right idea on how to do it.

“I don’t know if numbers should be retired in general,” he told the gathered media. “They should be honored — I do believe that — because if you start retiring numbers at the University of Miami, you could retire 40-plus numbers in a hurry.

“And then everybody’s wearing 65 and you’ve got to be pissed off at me, right? So I think you have to honor every number and every jersey that you wear. I think we’ll start with that.”

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About the Author: Steven Kim

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