In an act of kindness and generosity between newly-formed teammates, New York Giants defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has offered his number 21 to fellow defensive back and rookie Landon Collins to allow Collins to pay tribute to former NFL safety Sean Taylor.
When he was drafted by the Giants, Collins was assigned the number of 27, as it was not currently in use by any Giant (it was last worn by safety Stevie Brown, who is now with the Houston Texans). But from day one, Collins made it clear that he wanted to wear a number in honor of Taylor.
As early as the NFL Combine, Collins expressed his admiration for the former Washington Redskins safety:
“I idolized Sean Taylor for his physical play, his passion for the game, you could see it every time he touched the field,” Collins said. “… and I like being physical in the box.”
After a successful college career with the Miami Hurricanes, Taylor was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Redskins in 2004. However, his career and life was cut short in 2007 when he was fatally shot by an intruder at his Florida home. At the time of his death, Taylor was in the middle of his fourth NFL season and was having a great ’07 campaign, co-leading the NFC with five interceptions and 42 tackles. At season’s end, he was the first deceased player to be posthumously voted to the Pro Bowl.
Collins, who was at the time 13, did not hold back from telling reporters at the combine how he felt when he heard the news of Taylor’s death:
“I cried,” the former Alabama star said. “That’s a definite.”
Originally, though, Collins expressed interest in wearing 26, his number while at the University of Alabama and Taylor’s number when he was at Miami.
“When I talk to the equipment manager again, I will do that,” Collins said at his introductory press conference. “I’m going to ask for it.”
What the equipment manager probably told him was that there was already a Giants player who had that number: running back Orleans Darkwa. So for a month Collins poked along and wore 27. Since OTAs has started, most of the Giants veterans have made their way to camp this week, including Rodgers-Cromartie. Apparently hearing the news of what Collins wanted to do as a tribute, Rodgers-Cromartie offered him his number of 21, which was Taylor’s number with the Redskins. Collins ecstatically accepted and shortly after posted a picture on social media his new 21 jersey.
As for Rodgers-Cromartie, he will switch over to number 41. A gesture like this from a seasoned veteran to a rookie is one that is being met with great praise, and it looks like the two have established a warm, friendly relationship, which is what the Giants are probably very happy to see this early in the OTA session.