What initially started out as a feel-good story ahead of the Washington Football Team's Week 6 home game against the Kansas City Chiefs immediately brought upon skepticism given the all-too-convenient timing.
On Thursday, Washington announced that during as a part of alumni homecoming weekend, the organization would be retiring the No. 21 jersey of the late, two-time Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor, who was shot and killed in 2007 during a robbery attempt at his Florida home. While some viewed the move as a nice gesture and nothing more, many fans and media members flooded social media with claims that the decision was made in haste given what had transpired in recent days.
"The news comes after emails revealed racist, sexist and homophobic language used by former Raiders coach Jon Gruden over a seven-year period in correspondence to then-Washington team president Bruce Allen. Additionally, the NFL recently concluded an investigation into the Washington Football Team and the widespread sexual harassment and abuse within the organization," The Athletic reported on Thursday night. "On Wednesday, a group of former WFT employees called for the NFL's top sponsors to pressure the league to release the findings of its investigation."
Ben Standing of The Athletic reported on Thursday night that the plan to honor Taylor has "been on the books" for "several weeks".
Not only were people questioning the coincidental timing of the announcement, but as the announcement was only made on Thursday, that gave fans only three days notice before Sunday's game.
"We planned to do this right... ... But we screwed up the execution and, as a result, we realize that we hurt many of our fans deeply. And for that I and we as an organization are sorry," Washington Football Team president Jason Wright wrote in a letter to fans on Thursday night. "We thought that saving the news for a game week reveal was the best way to focus the message on Sean and his legacy. We didn't realize that so many of you wanted to make a trip to FedExField to be present for this moment -- a true lack of understanding of what you, the lifeblood of this franchise, needed to mourn our collective loss and celebrate Sean's legacy."
Taylor was selected by Washington with the fifth-overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and spent his entire four-year career with the franchise. He made the 2006 NFC Pro Bowl team, was posthumously honored by the NFL with a Pro Bowl nod and named a second team All-Pro selection in 2007, and was inducted as the 43rd member of the Washington Ring of Fame in 2008.