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Peter King On Sean Taylor Redux

Posted by Matt Terl on March 23, 2010 – 2:25 pm

I have no idea if SI.com writer Peter King saw my piece yesterday criticizing his comments about the late Sean Taylor, but it doesn’t really matter — MMQB reader “Tim of Washington” made King’s mailbag today with pretty much the same complaints, and King responded.

ANGRY ABOUT MY CHARACTERIZATION OF SEAN TAYLOR. From Tim of Washington: “You really need to check yourself and your comments about Sean Taylor. Calling someone dead as a disappointing draft pick despite all the stats that show otherwise is at the very least irresponsible journalism, at the worst completely insensitive. You could have made your point without even mentioning Sean. Or if you did talk about him, say the truth. Something like ‘While overall drafting that position may be a risk, Sean Taylor was the exception to the rule based on the short time he was able to play’ would have been more appropriate. Getting shot down is not a result of playing safety in the NFL.”

I got quite a lot of negative feedback on this, and I’d ask you to look at the full message of what I wrote. What I said about taking a safety high in the first round: Nowhere in the item I wrote about Tennessee safety Eric Berry did I say Taylor was a disappointing draft pick. I simply said the position wasn’t often one that had players picked that high because it was risky to predict how long a physical safety could stay healthy. Taylor appeared to be on the way to being a franchise safety when he was killed, and his was a tragic, senseless death. But I don’t know if Taylor, who was out with a knee injury at the time of his death, would have been the kind of franchise safety Ed Reed is, because to do so, you’ve got to stand the test of time. The point of the item is that even the great safeties, the highly regarded ones, are such physical forces on the field that they often don’t have long and impactful careers.

I’m still not convinced that anything about the Sean Taylor story helps make the point that great safeties often have short careers, unless you’re arguing that Taylor was somehow more susceptible to being murdered because of the position he played.

Also, the part of King’s item about longevity and injury didn’t include Taylor — it only mentioned Ed Reed, Bob Sanders, and Troy Polamalu. Taylor’s name was raised in a list arguing that “of the five top-10 safeties this decade, none has had franchise-player impact.” So, you know, I’m not really sold on King’s explanation here, but I’m not sure what continuing to harp on it would do.

Glad to hear that he got “quite a lot of negative feedback on this,” though. Good job to everyone (like Tim of Washington) who sent in well-articulated, non-aggressive complaints to King.

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