Antonio Pierce considered the late Sean Taylor not only a former teammate but a good friend as well. Pierce said he even spoke to Taylor only a few weeks ago to check on his injury. Then, just like that, Taylor was gone, leaving Pierce and several other NFL players wondering why.
Pierce was steadfast in his belief that changes needed to be made in order to prevent something like this from happening again.
Here are portions of Pierce's question-and-answer session with the New York media in front of his locker this afternoon:
How difficult has it been for you with the Sean Taylor incident since he was a teammate of yours?
It is frustrating. I just talked to the guy three weeks ago to make sure he was alright. You hear about stuff like that and initially you hear he is shot in the leg and you think it is something simple and then you hear more details of it. I think it is just a sad case in general where I think athletes in general are being put in a more vulnerable situation. What I am saying by that is you are talking about athletes anytime they get accused of having a gun or something it is for negative reasons. We are just like everybody else in this world. We don’t go around shooting, killing, and robbing people with a gun. You have it for your protection and when you see a situation like this it is very frustrating and I am disappointed about it. I hope the league does something about it to protect athletes.
Is it shocking when this happens to someone in the league?
No, it isn’t. There have been a lot of opportunities, you see it all the time, and you hear about situations like that where guys are put in situations where they are left defenseless and we are not used to that. We are always on the defensive side; playing football, taking it from the media, everything. We are defensive in that sense. When you are out in public and you are out away from football and in a situation like this where you are at home you are supposed to be safe. You can’t really do too much to protect yourself because if you have something that somebody thinks you shouldn’t have it is a negative thing and I think that is the sad part about the situation.
Does it hurt you even more because you were a teammate of his and in the professional football family?
When you look at a Sean Taylor you look at a guy that I think this year was starting to get into his peak, had not reached his prime yet. I played with him for that one year and I played with him in the Pro Bowl and this was a guy where the sky was the limit. To me one of the best athletes I have ever seen on the field on the defensive side of the ball, he could do anything you asked. Loved the game, played the way the game was supposed to be played. I don’t care about these fines and late hits, that is how you are supposed to play. You are supposed to play hard. Ten years ago these weren’t calls. With that being said, this is a guy who loved to play the game, would do anything for a teammate or family member, and it is a sad situation where this is a guy who was at home, supposed to be the safest place in the world, and something like this happens.
What do you think the league can do?
I don’t know, something different than all these worries about guys having guns and stuff like that. I am not saying you need to have a gun at home with you. I am just saying we need protection, too. We are vulnerable. We are the guys that everybody is looking after, we are the guys that most people are coming after. You don’t see athletes going out there trying to rob people, it is not common. I am not going to say it doesn’t happen, but it is not common. With that being said, I think it is just something where don’t just always look at the bad side when you hear that an athlete has a gun or something like that. I have heard stories about it and sometimes it is for a good reason and it is for protection. We have families. Sean Taylor, he had a daughter and a fiancée at home, and when a guy has to use a machete instead of other things, I think it is silly, especially when you know something is going on maybe.
You are saying you think you guys are marked men?
I think so because you can’t do anything. If somebody comes to your house and you brandish a gun and you are in your house, you are the one that gets all the blame. “Why does he have a gun? He makes all this money, he should have security,’ well you know what, you can’t have security with you 24/7. Nobody else in this world does most of the time except the President and other people. At the end of the day like I said we are humans and we have a life and we have family and we deal with the same problems that everybody else deals with. All I am saying is that it is tough because you are so vulnerable that you can’t defend yourself and I think that is what I am upset about.