Redskins' Taylor Facing NFL Fine
He Left Mandatory Rookie Symposium
By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 12, 2004; Page D01
The NFL is considering fining Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor at least $10,000 because he left a mandatory four-day rookie symposium late last month, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Taylor departed the event -- held from June 27 to June 30 in La Costa, Calif., near San Diego -- after one day, telling the Redskins that he needed to go back to Miami to clear out his apartment before getting evicted. However, Taylor initially flew to the Washington area, according to sources, and the league telephoned the Redskins to inform them Taylor would be fined and forced to participate next year if he didn't immediately go back.
After contacting Taylor, the Redskins hurried him on a flight back to San Diego for the final two days of the symposium, said one source, perhaps avoiding a penalty.
The symposium, in its eighth year, was created to provide guidance to rookies about playing in the NFL, covering areas such as money management, continuing education and the pitfalls of being a professional athlete. The NFL treats the symposium, which cost about $500,000 this year and was held at the La Costa Resort and Spa, with such seriousness that cell phones and visitors are banned.
When asked about Taylor's situation, league spokesman Greg Aiello acknowledged that the matter was under review, but did not set a timetable for a decision. Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said, "Sean had a personal matter and attended to it and went back."
In 1998, San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf was fined $10,000 for skipping a portion of the symposium, supposedly to make a speaking engagement at a children's football camp. In 2000, New York Giants running back Ron Dayne was fined $10,000 for missing the entire event. (The league dismissed his excuse that an ear infection prevented him from flying, despite the tailback providing a doctor's note.) And in 2002, Denver Broncos defensive tackle Monsanto Pope was fined $11,000 for his absence after an alibi that he was helping a sister with the birth of a child.
A possible fine for Taylor is just the latest bit of drama that has surrounded the former Miami Hurricane since the Redskins drafted him fifth overall. Taylor dismissed agent Drew Rosenhaus, without explanation, two days after the draft, following his introductory news conference in Washington. (Rosenhaus, who has worked well with team owner Daniel Snyder, has three clients on the club, including Taylor's buddy, tailback Clinton Portis.)
Although negotiations for first-round selections traditionally heat up this week, Taylor still hasn't chosen an agent. Eugene Mato appears to be the leading candidate after originally being Taylor's second choice. But last week, Roosevelt Barnes emerged as a candidate because he represents Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, a former Hurricane, who has a strong relationship with Taylor. Re-acquiring Rosenhaus hasn't been ruled out.
When asked last week if there were any concerns about Taylor, Redskins officials said no, playing down the off-field developments.
Not all the trouble has been Taylor's doing.
During Coach Joe Gibbs's final minicamp in early June, Taylor became the victim of a prank gone awry, which caused a scare at Redskins Park. As Taylor addressed the media after practice, linebacker LaVar Arrington sneaked up behind him and shoved a shaving-cream pie into his face.
Guffaws turned to gasps when Taylor screamed that he was blinded. After being treated, Taylor was able to drive home on his own. But the following day, after feeling eye irritation, Taylor watched practice from the sideline, wearing sunglasses, as a precautionary measure.
"He scared the bejesus out of me," said Arrington, who says he has sworn off pranks because of the incident.
Taylor frustrated the coaching staff, according to sources, by missing several organized team activities during the offseason. Although the workouts are voluntary, Gibbs strongly urged players to participate. Gibbs has said that he was pleased that attendance reached about 95 percent, in contrast to the roughly 75 percent from recent years. But Gibbs added that he was disappointed that some players didn't show up.
At the University of Miami, Taylor -- whose father is the chief of police of Florida City, Fla. -- was known for a strong work ethic and a reserved, amiable demeanor. Instead of being in the limelight of New York's Madison Square Garden for the draft in late April, Taylor mingled with family and friends in his home town of Tavernier, Fla.
After being selected by the Redskins, Taylor said: "When I came for a visit I loved it here. It's a great situation with a great coach and there's a lot of great players here, and it's a great community. I can't wait to get started."
Redskins Note: Aug. 3 and 10 are the dates being considered for the arbitration hearing involving the contract dispute between Arrington and the Redskins, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
Arrington has said that the Redskins omitted $6.5 million from a new deal that was negotiated in December.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company