And that's among the things that sadden me the most about Taylor's death. The full picture of him as a person was not painted until after he died, when those close to him made sure the stories about him were full of positive things.
He was much more well-rounded than anyone realized; he was much more generous with his time and much more of a devoted family man than anyone would have expected. Not because he was Sean Taylor, but because the typical 24-year-old athlete is not always this way.
I know the media deserves some of the blame for this, but it wasn't from lack of effort that Taylor's story wasn't told. There was quite a bit of it and many times he just didn't feel like talking. He didn't trust us; in some cases, but not all, he had good reason for feeling that way. Even coaches would very privately say that Taylor could be a great player -- if he matured.
But he was. And most of us did know that Taylor was maturing. Too many people in the organization said that was the case; too many players I trust loved the kid. So my hunch always was that eventually Taylor would let some of us in, so to speak, and start to develop a trust. What you couldn't do was make small-talk with him; few players had a better B.S. antenna than Taylor. Just let him come at his own pace, in his own time. He would have gotten there.
Remember, he was slow to let in some coaches and teammates, too. Once he did, their eyes were opened big-time. I always knew he was a good teammate and always liked that he never sought the spotlight. He liked being on his own, it seemed; maybe that's why he liked to train by himself. It's just who he was; gotta respect that.
But Taylor's rise as a person, something many young people go through, was headed toward being an excellent story. Fans loved him and that was always obvious. There was always a different look in Taylor's eyes around them, kids in particular.
Sometimes, in death, people become bigger and better than they actually were; a sign of respect. In this case, I think it was a chance for family and friends to talk about how Taylor really was, not who he was perceived to be. You don't draw 4,000 people to a funeral simply by being an NFL player. You draw that many by having some special qualities. I wish I'd gotten a chance to know more of that Sean Taylor. I would have enjoyed that a lot.