(Sean Taylor is third from the right in the top row, Antrel Rolle is third from the right in the bottom row. Photo courtesy Antrel Rolle.)
There were plenty of people who have encountered Redskins legend Sean Taylor throughout Taylor's football life. One person who spent a ton of time with Taylor – even back to their childhood days – is 11-year NFL veteran Antrel Rolle.
Rolle, who will be retiring officially at the end of this season, had his "Five Lessons From a Life in Football" published in The Players' Tribune recently, and it included plenty about his friendship with Taylor. Both Rolle and Taylor were born in the Miami area and first encountered one another at the age of six as teammates on the Homestead Hurricanes – a meeting Rolle hasn't forgotten:
"We used to do this thing that we called the Oklahoma drill," Rolle writes. "Two players lie flat on their back and wait for the whistle. When it blows you get up as fast and you can and slam into each other. Last man standing wins.
"I had to go against Sean. The whistle blows. I get up and run at Sean, and I remember getting hit so hard. I get up like, 'Damn! I don't know if this football thing is for me.' I still remember how that hit felt."
The two ended up playing on different teams as they grew up but reunited at the University of Miami, where both starred for the Hurricanes. Both earned consensus All-American honors while at Miami. Rolle said, in his opinion, that he and Taylor were the best corner-safety combo to every play at the school.
Rolle also calls Taylor the best teammate he ever had, and is the reason why he wore the number 26 throughout his NFL career (Taylor wore 26 at Miami). As Rolle, 33, began contemplating the continuation of his NFL career earlier this year he thought about Taylor. Rolle has a child at a similar age to Taylor's daughter when the former Redskins' safety was killed tragically.
"It was a reminder of what's really important in life, and how precious it is," Rolle writes.
Rolle's story proves without a doubt that although Taylor passed away nine years ago, he's still having an impact on the NFL community.