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Texans deal with Taylor's passing


Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor will be missed by many members of the Houston Texans organization.

Sadness descended over the National Football League this week when Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was shot and killed by an intruder in his home in Miami.

The gloom crept its way into the Texans locker room as well.

Three Texans played with Taylor at the University of Miami and all were struck by his loss. Wide receiver Andre Johnson probably knew Taylor best and was in the most shock Wednesday.

"It is very tragic," Johnson said. "We lost a former teammate, a great person. Right now, I'm still in disbelief. I can't believe something like this has happened.

"I've talked to a lot of my former teammates. All of us played together at Miami and everyone is just in disbelief right now. We really don't know what else to say. Everyone is in a lot of disbelief."

Offensive tackle Rashad Butler also was stunned.

"When I got the phone call around 5:30 in the morning, I was just depressed," Butler said. "I really couldn't go back to sleep. I was in a daze all day. I'm real cool with Sean.

"I came in with him back in 2001. We were freshman together, even though he left early. Last time I saw him, I want to say was probably this past summer. I saw him out and about just having a good time. He was a real good guy. I'm still kind of hurting over it. It will probably take me a while to get over this."

Offensive tackle Eric Winston admits he wasn't one of Taylor's closest friends, but he knew him and appreciated him as a person and a player.

"It's sad, a sad story," Winston said. "I guess it just proves how fragile life is and you remember, you just kind of start thinking back to all the days you spent with him and you there. I wish I got to know him a little bit better.

"He was a quiet guy, kind of hung to himself and hung with a crowd from Miami, so I never really got to know him that great. It's just sad. You never want to see that happen to anybody.

"He was a great player, great competitor, a guy who just came to work every day and just worked as hard as he could. With all that talent, you don't see that a lot sometimes. He was one of the most talented guys you'll ever see play."

{QUOTE}Coach Gary Kubiak also was moved by the news.

"It's very unfortunate," Kubiak said. "I actually had a chance to meet him a couple times when I had Clinton Portis in Denver. Him and Clinton were good friends.

"It's just very unfortunate, those situations. Your thoughts and prayers go out to him and the Redskin family and his family. It's just a tragedy."

Taylor had the world on a leash before the tragedy occurred Monday.

"Basically, he had everything going for himself," Butler said. "He had a girlfriend who just recently had a kid. I feel for Sean and his family and the Redskins family."

Taylor, a 24-year-old Pro Bowl safety, also had much going for him as a player.

"He was huge," Winston said. "He was 6-3, 230-235 and could run like the wind and just hit and just loved playing. That's the big thing you remember about him, he just loved to be out there, loved to be playing, like a lot of guys we had back then."

Butler was asked what he would say to Taylor's family.

"Just keep your head up," Butler said. "I really can't speak on something like this because I never was really faced with something like this, as far as an immediate family member passing away. I've had relatives, like grandmas and aunties, but nothing like a brother or a sister or mother or dad. I really can't give them any advice. I'll just pray for them and hope for the best."

NFL coaches and officials regularly try to counsel players on the dangers they face off the field. But no one could have been prepared for this.

"If they have problems, coaches, players, anybody, we have to stop and deal with their issues and that will never get bigger than the game," Kubiak said. "We're a family and you try to make sure everyone understands that because you want those guys to pull on you.

"It's like I told them today, if I hollered at you all day Wednesday and you have a problem Wednesday night, you better call me because I care a lot about you. We're no different than any other family."

It was the latest in a string of catastrophes that have happened to former UM players the last two years. Hurricanes defensive lineman Bryan Pata was shot and killed shortly after a practice a year ago. Safety Willie Cooper and former defensive end Jerome McDougal were both shot but survived their wounds in the last two years.

"It's sad," Winston said. "It's just unbelievable. There's been so much tragedy already in our UM family and for this to happen again, it's just another sad note for the end of this year."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

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