- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 10, 2008

HONOLULU (AP) — There’s one player missing from the Pro Bowl everyone keeps mentioning.

Sean Taylor.

The slain Washington Redskins safety, voted an NFC starter for today’s all-star game, will have a presence at Aloha Stadium.

All three Redskins players on hand — tackle Chris Samuels, tight end Chris Cooley and long snapper Ethan Albright — will wear Taylor’s No. 21. Those jerseys will be auctioned after the game on NFL.com, with proceeds going to the Sean Taylor Memorial Trust Fund, which was set up to benefit his daughter, Jackie.

The league also paid for many of Taylor’s family members, including father Pedro, to come to Hawaii. In all, Pedro Taylor said, there will be “12 or 13” on hand.

“It’s all about respect,” Pedro Taylor said. “You come here, you just enjoy what you do and you ensure that you’re going to recognize your teammate. The guys are doing that. … it’s an honor.”

Taylor died Nov. 27 after being shot at his home during a botched robbery attempt. Teams have worn a No. 21 decal on their helmets ever since, which Pedro Taylor called “a special honor. It’s great that the Redskins organization and the NFL allowed them to do this.”

“I’m quite sure he’s looking down at us and smiling. You can’t take that away from him.”

Teammates and opponents have paid tribute to the free safety throughout the week.

“He’s always close to my heart,” Samuels said. “I think about Sean every day. He’s definitely supposed to be here with us. It’s going to be big on Sunday for us to honor Sean.”

Added Browns tight end Kellen Winslow, who played at the University of Miami with Taylor: “It’s just great they’re wearing 21 and that Sean’s family is coming. It’s awesome who Sean was and what he stood for. It’s such a shame he is gone. I keep him right here [pointing to his heart].”

The only player voted posthumously to the Pro Bowl, Taylor also is remembered for his debut in the game a year ago. He leveled Buffalo punter Brian Moorman on a fake punt.

Samuels, a Pro Bowl player last year, remembers the hit more than anything else about that game.

“It’s good to see everyone is still remembering Sean,” Samuels said. “It’s important. And it’s good to see he hasn’t been forgotten.”

Dallas’ Ken Hamlin will start at free safety. There was no word whether the NFC would open the game with 10 defenders as the Redskins did in their first game after Taylor’s death.

Oddly, the only member of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants is defensive end Osi Umenyiora, while six New England Patriots players are on hand — Tom Brady and Randy Moss dropped out after the Super Bowl loss.

Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy will coach the NFC. San Diego’s Norv Turner is the AFC coach.

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