The day that Redskins safety Sean Taylor was declared dead, Leonard Shapiro of The Washington Post wrote a column exploring the reasons for Taylor's murder. Shapiro wrote that he could not say ultimately why Taylor was killed. Then he offered up the following hypothesis:
... (Could) anyone honestly say they never saw this coming? You'd have to be blind not to consider Taylor's checkered past. It was only a few months after he was drafted, when we got something of an inkling of what sort of young man the Redskins were selecting out of the University of Miami with the fifth overall selection in 2004.
For one, Taylor brazenly skipped the rookie symposium he was required to attend his first year, and was fined accordingly by the NFL. You also can look at the timeline of his professional life printed on this web site or in the newspaper and draw your own preliminary conclusions.
Over the first few years Taylor was in the league, he bounced from one scrape to another, blowing off the symposium, disrespecting Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs by not showing up for mandatory offseason workouts and never calling to explain why, running afoul of the law in a widely reported shooting incident in South Florida and very nearly going to jail.
Almost instantly, Shapiro's article was assailed. He received hundreds of emails from irate readers. At Taylor's funeral, Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace received a standing ovation when he declared that reporters should be "ashamed" for "recklessly speculating that this young man's death was caused by the way he lived." Sports Illustrated wrote that Shapiro's article at worst was "incendiary and racist," noting that Taylor had been murdered by strangers, not his enemies.
The contretemps is about more than the fact that a reporter, as Shapiro admitted later, jumped to a conclusion. It's about a debate between those who attribute most of black America's problems to a Culture of Poverty and those who blame White Racism. Alas, reporters have shed more heat than light.
One problem is that reporters have failed to probe the religious angle to the story. All but one of the alleged robbers, as well as the alleged gunman, were in their teens. All had a history of arrests. Were these children from divorced families? Or were they just callow young men?
It was often reported that Taylor turned around his life after his 18-month-old daughter was born. Yet Joe Gibbs attributed Taylor's change of heart to a religious conversion. Well, what kind was it? If Taylor did convert or embrace his old denomination, why did he delay in marrying his fiancee?
Too many questions, not enough answers -- it's an old story.