- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 4, 2005

Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor yesterday was being sought by the Miami-Dade County Police Department in connection with a shooting Wednesday in South Florida.

Taylor, the club’s talented but troubled 2004 first-round draft pick, was labeled a “person of interest,” meaning police weren’t sure whether he was a victim, suspect or witness in the shooting, which didn’t injure anyone.

“We understand he was there,” detective Nelda Fonticella said. “We have been in touch with his family, friends and team, but we haven’t been able to locate him.”

The incident is the latest in a well-publicized string of dubious moves by Taylor, and it comes during an offseason in which he now is the only Redskin declining to work out with his teammates at Redskin Park.

Coach Joe Gibbs, who champions the offseason workout program, hasn’t been able to contact Taylor all offseason. Gibbs yesterday wasn’t available for comment, and a team spokesman didn’t return a phone call. Agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Taylor, also didn’t return a call.

Fonticella said the shooting came during a dispute in a residential area in southern Dade County. Taylor played college football at the University of Miami and is working out this offseason in South Florida.

There was no further information available about the nature of the incident or who else was involved. Police were looking for “a couple more” people in connection with the shooting, Fonticella said. None of the others are football players.

Fonticella noted police weren’t close to issuing a warrant for Taylor’s arrest and that there is “not a set deadline” for him to turn himself in. The search for Taylor wasn’t supposed to be made public and must have “leaked out,” she added.

Taylor’s off-field problems began soon after he was drafted. He fired two sets of agents, showed up late for the NFL rookie symposium, and missed a day of practice when a rookie prank went awry. During the season he was arrested for DUI, though he eventually was acquitted on all charges, and accused of spitting on an opponent.

Taylor’s problems with the law are ironic given that his father is police chief of Florida City, Fla. Also, Gibbs last year often referred to Taylor as one of the most researched draft picks ever.

A year later, Gibbs has become at least a bit frustrated. The coach recently acknowledged that Taylor doesn’t fit in with the type of team he is trying to build, but he said he hasn’t given up on the 22-year-old.

“He’s a gifted player,” Gibbs said during a press conference last week. “So many times in sports, you’re saying, ‘How do I reach that guy there?’ … I certainly don’t consider him a lost cause. He’s a dynamic player, a great player. But [his continued absence from the workout program] has been a big disappointment for us.”

Assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams has shown less disappointment with Taylor’s off-field issues, saying flatly he is “a Sean Taylor fan.”

“I love the kid,” Williams said in late April. “He is so much fun to coach, and so much fun to have on our team. It’ll work out.”

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