- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 30, 2004

Joe Gibbs said he is benching Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor for tomorrow’s game against Green Bay because he does not want the rookie’s DUI arrest to distract his team, but the coach said Taylor will have a chance for a fresh start when he rejoins the club Monday.

Taylor, who was arrested in Northern Virginia early Thursday morning and charged with driving under the influence and refusing to take a breathalyzer test, was excused from practice at Redskin Park yesterday. He will not be at FedEx Field tomorrow when the Redskins face the Packers but is expected to show up for work the next morning with the rest of his teammates and be in uniform the following Sunday against Detroit.

“He’s not going to play this weekend, so I think it’s good for him [to stay home] from a standpoint of media attention for the team and all that kind of stuff,” Gibbs said. “It’d be better for the rest of us to spend the rest of the week concentrating on Green Bay. … I told him to just report back on Monday and be ready to go.”

Though he reiterated his disappointment in Taylor’s actions yesterday, Gibbs also made a point to underscore the high hopes he continues to have for the first-round draft pick.

“We’re convinced that he’s going to be a huge part of our future,” Gibbs said. “We think he’s going to be a great football player for us. It’s just one of those things that happened.”



The Redskins have been calculating in their handling of Taylor’s situation, right down to the wording of Thursday night’s one-sentence press release announcing the player’s punishment.

Because Taylor, 21, has not been convicted of any crime, the club cannot formally suspend or fine him without risking the wrath of the NFL Players Association. After several hours of discussion between the coaching and public relations staff, Washington chose to announce that Taylor simply “will be inactive” for tomorrow’s game.

Gibbs also emphasized that Taylor is being punished not only for his arrest but also for his failure to report to practice or team meetings Thursday without informing the club of his whereabouts.

Taylor was pulled over for speeding on the Capital Beltway near Route 193 around 2:40a.m., according to a Virginia State Police spokesman. After failing a field sobriety test, Taylor refused to take a breathalyzer test and was subsequently charged with that offense along with driving under the influence, police said.

He was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond from the Fairfax County jail around 10a.m., and is scheduled to appear in court Dec.1. If convicted, Taylor as a first-time offender could face up to one year in prison, a $2,500 fine and/or a one year suspension of his driver’s license. He also would be subject to a fine from the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

There was plenty of discussion at Redskin Park the last two days about the circumstances that led to Taylor’s arrest. Though no players will confirm it publicly or privately, it’s believed Taylor and a handful of teammates were at a District nightclub for wide receiver Rod Gardner’s birthday party.

“I wish it never would have happened,” Gardner said. “I wish he never would have been in that position where he got stopped. … It’s live and learn. He knows he made a mistake. He was a little tipsy or whatever he was, but he’ll bounce back from it. None of us is going to hold him down.”

Though Gibbs has no rules against players staying out late on a weeknight, he asks for everyone in the organization to use common sense. He said yesterday that while he’s disappointed if Taylor and others weren’t using common sense Wednesday night and Thursday morning, he does not believe there are team-wide problems in this area.

“We don’t want guys out late,” Gibbs said. “That’s not the best way to be prepared the next day for meetings or practice. I realize we’re dealing with young guys, and sometimes they’ll make mistakes. But in general, we trust them. They’re real professional. You’ve got to be smart. You’ve got a lot of time to vacation, be with your family or whatever else. And during the season is the time when you’re trying to be focused on football.”

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