September 2, 2014

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Dan Coughlin: Taylor’s death another case of Miami vice?

The NFL mourns another star, Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins, gunned down in his own house in Miami early Monday morning. He died early Tuesday.
If you want to get shot, Miami`s the place. A year ago a University of Miami player was shot to death while standing in his front yard, the victim of a stray bullet in a random shooting.
You think a lot of people up here have guns? Of course you do, and you`re right. There is a shooting a day around here.
In Miami, however, even the good guys pack. I worked at a TV station there for a little less than a year back in 1989-90. The reporters and photographers kept their guns and bulletproof vests in lockers at the station.
They looked at me with puzzlement, as though I were the local weirdo.
“You don`t have a gun?” they asked in disbelief.
Most of them had two guns – one at home and another in their car.
One night, after the 11 o`clock news, there was a “bang!” in the parking lot behind the station. One of our engineers took a bullet in his leg when the gun in his pocket accidentally went off while he was getting in his car. No one seemed particularly upset, not even the engineer. He went to the hospital where they patched him up and he was back at work two days later.
Several years ago when Jose Canseco was still running loose, he was arrested by police in California because he had a pistol in his car.
“People don`t understand,” I said at the time. “He grew up in Miami, where it`s a crime NOT to have a gun in your car.
It`s the culture there. Miami is a 21st-century metropolis with a Wild West attitude. Every night there`s a gunfight or a home invasion somewhere.
Now there`s an ominous term – “home invasion.” We usually led the late news with a home invasion story. A gang of three or four would knock down the door of a house, line up the occupants with guns drawn, and ransack the place.
Believe it or not, in the early `90s the mayor of Hialeah and his family were victims of a home invasion. The gunmen didn`t even know who he was. It just looked like a promising house. They were right.
Don`t be misled by the stories you see on television. They don`t always catch them.
In the wake of the Sean Taylor murder, I asked Browns general manager Phil Savage about the constant worry when his players are out of his sight.
“Yes,” he said. “You can try to steer them and direct them but once they leave the facility, the building, the stadium, they`re on their own.”
And for many of them, that`s not good. You worry.
Dan Coughlin is a columnist
for The Chronicle-Telegram and a sportscaster for Channel 8. Contact him at ctsports@chroniclet.com.