By: Jordan Kendall, Columnist
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
The Washington Football Team is arguably the worst organization in sports right now. They are in the middle of an email scandal that came in the wake of several former female employees accusing sexual assault and harassment during their employment. Instead of talking about that scandal, I want to focus on how Washington is seemingly trying to divert attention from it.
During halftime of their week six game vs the Kansas City Chiefs, they retired former safety Sean Taylor’s number 21. The way Washington handled it I think is a great representation of how corrupt their organization is, and in this week’s column, I’ll discuss my issues with how they handled it.
Taylor played for Washington from 2004-2007. He was shot at his home in Miami and died at 24 years old. Since then his number has not been worn, however, it still took 14 years for the retirement to be official.
Washington did not announce the retirement until three days before the game. This angered a lot of Washington fans and led to President Jason Wright issuing an apology.
Wright said in his apology “We thought that saving the news for a game week reveal was the best way to focus the message on Sean and his legacy. We didn’t realize that so many of you wanted to make a trip to FedExField to be present for this moment.”
This makes absolutely no sense to me. How does saving the announcement for three days before the game focus the message on Taylor? How do you not realize a lot of fans would want to be there when his number is retired? I find this extremely hard to believe.
Not only is the announcement awful, but so are the festivities. Washington renamed the road leading to FedexField Sean Taylor Road. They put the street sign in front of a row of porta-potties.
I find it hard to believe there was not another place to put the sign. I looked at Sean Taylor Road on Google Maps. There is plenty of space to put the sign, but it’s not surprising Washington picked this exact spot. If anything, I think it represents the current state of the organization well.
Then there’s the actual ceremony, which they combined with an alumni recognition of other former players throughout the decades. Why combine them? Why can’t you honor your alumni during one game and Taylor in a separate ceremony?
Not only that, but they barely gave Taylor’s part of the ceremony any time. The two ceremonies together lasted about five minutes, Taylor’s part was less than two minutes. There wasn’t a podium or platform for Taylor’s family or anything to make it seem special. All they did was stand on the field next to a framed jersey.
Why didn’t they have a teammate or coach of Taylor’s speak? Why not invite his family to speak? And why wasn’t anyone in the front office with Taylor’s family during the ceremony? That wasn’t a ceremony, it was a public address announcer reading a prepared message.
Let’s compare that to how one of their division rivals handled a jersey retirement this season. When the New York Giants retired quarterback Eli Manning’s jersey, they announced it in June for a September ceremony. That gave fans plenty of time to get tickets and be there in person.
The actual ceremony was around ten minutes and included messages from Manning’s former teammates and coaches as well as Giants ownership. New York had a stage over the field for Manning and the distinguished guests to be on. There were also podiums with microphones for speakers. The Giants made it an actual ceremony, unlike Washington.
That is how I believe you show a player the respect they deserve when their jersey gets retired. You make the event feel special and unique, not like a brief acknowledgment.
It seems like Washington rushed this ceremony as a way to divert attention from the email scandals. According to Nicki Jhabvala from the Washington Post, Washington had this ceremony planned two months ago. Based on how it went I find that hard to believe. This ceremony felt like it was planned two minutes ago, not two months ago.
With everything that’s come out surrounding this organization, the way this handled this does not surprise me one bit. I’m a Giants fan and consider Washington my least favorite team, but even I was furious at how they handled this.
Taylor deserved better, he deserved this recognition a long time ago. He definitely deserved better than a two-minute acknowledgment of his family on the field in the midst of a scandal within the organization.