Darnerien McCants hasn’t been Sean Taylor’s teammate for three seasons. For Ryan Hoag, it’s been just under three months. However, both have very similar memories and experiences with a man who was arguably the most-feared safety in all of football.
McCants was selected by the Washington Redskins in the fifth round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He played four seasons with the team and he had just completed a breakout year in 2003 (tied for the team lead in touchdowns with six), when Sean Taylor came to the Redskins as a raw playmaking rookie in 2004.
“When he was a rookie, he had to learn how to cover and knew his strength was in his size, so I used to abuse him in the open field because he was so aggressive. But he got better by the end of the year. He could read a receiver better and then, of course, he just started picking everyone off that same year.”
McCants further added, “(He was) a punisher on the field so you had to respect him.”
Hoag spent time on the Redskins roster in 2006 prior to spending this spring playing in NFL Europe as a member of the Berlin Thunder. Following his time in Europe, he participated in this year’s training camp and pre-season for the Redskins before being released on September 1st.
He shares the same respect and sentiment about Taylor’s on-field ability, “He could hit with the best of them. (He) had wide receiver hands. (He was) incredibly gifted and fun to watch.”
“Sean was a soft spoken player, incredible talent, and hard worker. He could cover ground more than any safety I had ever played against,” Hoag said.
One aspect of Taylor’s life that the national media rarely witnessed was his personality and how he portrayed himself to his teammates. McCants remembers Taylor, the person, and gave him the nickname “The Quiet Storm,” referring to his soft-spoken demeanor off the field but ferocious playing style on it.
“(He) didn’t say much but had a big presence about him,” McCants said.
McCants and Hoag both recalled how they found out about the devastating news regarding Sean.
“I was home in Minnesota and another former teammate Corey Bradford called me,” Hoag said.
McCants recalled, “When I heard the news, my mom called and told me he was shot, but I thought it was in Ashburn. I didn’t know he was back in Florida. Once I found that out, I just thought, knowing how strong the guy is, that he (would) just be down for a few weeks and be back by the end of the year or off-season. But when I turned the TV on and they said he was in critical (condition), I knew it was worse than I thought it was.”
“Then I had a whole rack of texts saying ‘Sorry about your friend.’ I was like: ‘I know this dude didn’t die on me,’ and I turned on the TV and they were showing his highlights and I knew he was really gone,” he added.
Hoag, who is now a member of the San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League, sends his heartfelt sympathies to the Redskins organization and the members affected by the tragedy, “My prayers go out to the team and his family.”
As fans, it is hard to comprehend a situation such as this, but reading encouraging words from former teammates who understand how we feel about Sean as a player and, more importantly, understand Sean as a person, makes the grieving process a little easier.
Notes: Following his stint with the Eagles, Darnerien took a sabbatical from football to focus on his music career as an R&B singer, producing a CD titled: “My 1st 7.” This past summer, McCants played three games with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Jake Russell