Thread: Even the pro's need security
Minnesota Vikings taking their security more seriously after shooting death of Washington Redskins' Sean Taylor
Murder of Redskins safety Taylor has players trying to do more to protect themselves, their families
BY SEAN JENSEN
Article Last Updated:12/22/2007 12:21:19 AM CST
Every time his doorbell rings, Vikings defensive tackle Pat Williams answers with his 9mm Glock holstered on his hip.
Williams' security concerns have increased since Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was killed in his Miami home on Nov. 26 by intruders who reportedly learned of the Pro Bowl safety's wealth by someone who had been to the house.
"You never know," Williams said. "(Taylor's death) made me more aware. I don't trust nobody.
"I just can't."
Williams checks in with his wife and three kids more often, and he doesn't let anyone do any work at his house unless he is home. When workers arrive, Williams "breaks the rules down" to them.
" 'Get in and get out. Don't talk to nobody,' " Williams said. "If my wife is there by herself, they got to go. They stop until I come back."
NFL players are "targets," Williams said, because of people driven by jealousy.
"Dude didn't do nothing wrong," Williams said of Taylor. "They killed him for nothing."
Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie played with Taylor at the University of Miami and owns a home in the Miami area. Since the shooting, McKinnie has added security cameras to his home, and he is contemplating another purchase.
"I might get a gun in this offseason because of that (shooting)," McKinnie said. "(The assailants) had a gun, and (Taylor) had a knife."
Last summer, McKinnie hosted several barbecues, and he admitted he didn't know everyone there.
"People bring a friend of a friend," McKinnie said, "but that's going to stop."
McKinnie drives souped-up sport utility vehicles and wears jewelry, and at 6 feet 8, he stands out in a crowd.
Vikings receiver Troy Williamson said he avoids drawing attention by not purchasing jewelry and mink coats, although he does have a soft spot for cars. But when he and his friends go out, they usually get a limousine or hire a driver.
"I was never flashy," Williamson said. "You have to watch how you handle yourself around people."
But three Vikings players said they're not sure there are enough ways to be fully protected.
"If you're targeted, you're targeted," said Vikings guard Artis Hicks, who has owned a gun since he turned 21. "You want to protect your family. But there are so many cases and scenarios that you don't even know if any of that would make a difference."
Added Vikings linebacker Ben Leber, "There's only so much you can do."
The Twin Cities, on average, are below the national average in violent and property crimes. But according to cityrating.com, Minneapolis is above the national average for violent crimes such as murder, robbery and aggravated assault. Most Vikings players live in the southwestern suburbs, but some of the area's most popular nightspots are in Minneapolis.
That is why, during the offseason, Vikings coach Brad Childress familiarized himself with some of those clubs and learned about the gangs in the area. He shared his insight with his players, and he encouraged them to be mindful of who they hang out with and who they interact with.
"It can happen anywhere," Vikings defensive tackle Spencer Johnson said. "You have to think about the company you keep and the things you do, because people do target you."
Childress said he is "elated" when all of his players are at Winter Park on Wednesday.
"Some could have departed town. Some could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Childress, referring to the day or day and a half the players have off during a week in the regular season. "I mentioned anybody that has children has gone through that, doing that mental inventory in the middle of the night. ... You know, do we have all of them here?"
All of this awareness and attention is of little consolation to McKinnie and other teammates and friends of Taylor. Washington quarterback Todd Collins said Taylor's death was "pretty traumatic" for the Redskins, especially at first.
"I think we're a little bit more removed from that now," Collins said. "I know right after we had played Buffalo, I think there were some guys having a hard time suiting up for Sunday because it was so emotional. But I think we've kind of taken it as trying to make what we can of it and trying to play with the type of passion that he played with on the field every Sunday."
Heading into Sunday's game, McKinnie dreaded the offensive film sessions, fearful he would see footage of Taylor. During a moment of silence to honor Taylor before the Vikings' Dec. 2 game against the Detroit Lions, McKinnie kept his helmet on because he was crying.
"It's not as bad as I thought it was going to be," McKinnie said Thursday. "It shouldn't be too bad."