- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2005

“It’s great to be back,” Sean Taylor said.

And why wouldn’t it be? I mean, isn’t absence supposed to make the heart grow fonder?

Taylor had been absent from Redskin Park since the end of last season — absent from minicamp, absent from organized team activities, absent from unorganized team activities and group sleep-overs — when he stepped on the practice field yesterday for the first Sweating Session of training camp.

Had Patrick Ramsey made himself similarly scarce, decided that, as Taylor put it, “It’s the offseason,” is there any doubt someone else would be the Redskins’ starting quarterback? Free safeties, I guess, can get away with this kind of behavior, even if QBs can’t. Which makes you wonder why Patrick isn’t the one who’s complaining about his contract — substantially smaller than Sean’s — and refusing to answer Joe Gibbs’ phone calls.

Ah, the mysteries of football.

And Sean, the Inner Sean, is another mystery — now and, perhaps, forever. Who knows what’s going on in this kid’s head? Who knows what causes him to bring one “unfortunate situation” after another upon himself? That’s how Clinton Portis, his University of Miami buddy, described Taylor’s latest slip-up, his Adventures in Vigilantism that caused him to be charged with felony assault with a firearm.

“I think Sean ran into an unfortunate situation,” Clinton said, “and it got blown out of proportion.”

Everything about Taylor, it seems, gets blown out of proportion — his hiring and firing of agents, his disappearance from a rookie symposium, his drunk-driving arrest, his boycotting of offseason drills. That’s why he stopped talking to the media last season; we weren’t getting His Story straight. (Apparently, Joe Gibbs wasn’t getting it straight, either, though, because he benched Sean for a game after the DWI debacle, even though the charges were later dropped.)

If the Redskins were expecting Taylor to be a Changed Man after his “unfortunate situation,” to have undergone some kind of personal evolution, they have to be sorely disappointed. Sean is still Sean, in all his recalcitrance. About the only thing new about him is his jersey number; he has forsaken 36 for 21 (formerly the property of Fred Smoot). Then again, maybe he’s just wearing it as a disguise, so he’ll be less recognizable to disapproving fans.

Asked he if had any regrets about his first 12 months as a Redskin, he replied, almost predictably: “I don’t think anyone should have regrets, especially me. You don’t regret anything you do in your life. If you do it, you do it for a reason. … If everybody had a time machine, they would hop in that time machine and go back a couple of hours or a couple of seconds. … [But] there is not a time machine. We are living right now, and we are going on from right now.”

(Now there’s a sound bite that might come back to bite him in the courtroom. As we all know, expressing no remorse is about as advisable for a defendant as showing up in pajamas.)

Taylor claimed to have had a good, air-clearing conversation with Gibbs, during which the coach impressed on him the importance of communication. You wouldn’t think such instruction would be necessary, even for a 22-year-old, but this is a player, let’s not forget, who tripped over his ABCs during a roadside sobriety test.

The most intelligent thing uttered about the Sean Situation yesterday was when Portis said, “I think his life is on the line, his livelihood is on the line.” Just because athletes and celebrities have a Perry Mason-like won-loss record in legal proceedings doesn’t mean Taylor will emerge unscathed — which explains the Redskins’ recent acquisition of safeties Tony Dixon and Omar Stoutmire. The club has to have some kind of Plan B in the event Sean’s season is interrupted by a trial or cut short by a jail sentence and/or league suspension.

Football, ironically, has become Taylor’s refuge. He didn’t need the Redskins back in the spring, when he was playing hooky from offseason workouts, but he needs them now. The paychecks will be a boon to the Sean Taylor Defense Fund, and the game itself will be a welcome distraction from his current troubles.

“I am not worried about anything,” he says of his pending case, and you tend to believe him. From almost his first day as a Redskin, after all, he’s acted as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

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