Washington Football Team President Apologizes for 'Short Notice' of Sean Taylor's Jersey Retirement

"We didn't realize that so many of you wanted to make a trip to FedExField to be present for this moment," Washington Football Team president Jason Wright said

Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor leaves the field after his ejection in an NFL wild card playoff game January 7, 2006 in Tampa.
Photo: Al Messerschmidt/Getty

Washington Football Team president Jason Wright issued an apology 12 hours after announcing Sean Taylor's jersey retirement, which will take place this Sunday.

On Thursday evening, Wright penned a lengthy letter in which he apologized for the timing of the news after many fans and former players spoke out against the three-day notice. The backlash comes amid a scandal-heavy two weeks for the organization, including news of incendiary emails between former team president Bruce Allen and former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden as part of WFT's workplace misconduct investigation.

Others criticized the last-minute timing of Taylor's prestigious ceremony while several called out the organization for its "PR stunt" in honoring the fan-favorite player, who died over a decade ago.

"Almost every mistake starts off with the best of intentions…" Wright began his statement about the retirement ceremony scheduled to take place on Sunday when the team plays against the Kansas City Chiefs. "What we wanted to do was make good on something we know was long overdue."

Noting that he believed "alumni weekend was the right moment" to retire Taylor's No. 21 jersey, Wright said the organization planned on including many of those close to the late football star — including his daughter Jackie Taylor, his fiancé Jackie Garcia and various other family members — but "screwed up the execution" when thinking about fans who would also want to attend the event.

"We planned to do this right…" he wrote. "But we screwed up the execution and, as a result, we realize that we hurt many of our fans deeply. And for that I and we as an organization are sorry."

According to Wright's statement, he believed sharing the news "for a game week reveal was the best way to focus the message on Sean and his legacy," though he didn't take into account that it wouldn't allow some fans enough of a heads-up to properly attend the event in-person.

"We didn't realize that so many of you wanted to make a trip to FedExField to be present for this moment — a true lack of understanding of what you, the lifeblood of this franchise, needed to mourn our collective loss and celebrate Sean's legacy," Wright said.

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"As the guy who really wanted us to start honoring players better and differently -- in line with what they paid in the blood, sweat, and tears — I'm angry and sad that we messed up your opportunity to honor Sean in person this weekend," he continued. "I feel a pit in my stomach knowing how we have let so many of you down."

"My hope is that you can meaningfully celebrate Sean as his jersey is retired this weekend and every time you travel down Sean Taylor Road — this weekend and in the future," he added. "I hope those who make it to the game and watch on television will be able to joyously remember him with pride and bear witness to our planned tributes at pregame and halftime."

Wright concluded, "I again offer my sincere apology to the fans for the unacceptably short notice of this momentous event."

The Washington Football Team previously announced in a statement on Thursday that they would pay tribute to Taylor nearly 15 years after his death by retiring the late safety's jersey number. The occasion will mark only the third time the team has officially retired a number in its 89-year history.

The Florida native died at age 24 in November 2007, after he was shot in the leg by a burglar in his Miami home while defending his family. Although Taylor was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital, he died the next morning of massive blood loss from a severed femoral artery.

Taylor's family will be in attendance during a pre-game ceremony, in which they will also commemorate the renaming of the road leading to the field as Sean Taylor Road. The family will also have a chance to visit Taylor's locker on the Club Level, which has been preserved since his last game.

The first 10,000 fans at Sunday's game will receive a limited-edition commemorative Sean Taylor rally towel, inspired by the original rally towel created after Taylor's death. Players will also wear stickers on their helmets in honor of Taylor, and full-time staff will wear a No. 21 lapel pins on game day. Taylor will also appear on the cover of the team's game-day magazine with an article highlighting some of the best plays of his career.

In addition, Washington alumni will complete a community service project in Taylor's name over the weekend at Burrville Elementary School in Washington, D.C., taking part in an OutTeach Garden Build, presented by Pepsi Stronger Together.

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