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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Updated: November 29, 9:39 AM ET
Cards' Rolle vows to honor childhood friend Taylor

Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Still in disbelief of his childhood friend's shooting death, Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antrel Rolle vowed Wednesday to make sure Sean Taylor is remembered.

He added he did not believe the killing was part of a burglary gone sour, and that Taylor had many enemies on the streets of Miami.

"This was not the first incident," Rolle said. "They've been targeting him for three years now."

Rolle said many former "friends" had it in for Taylor, who was trying to build a more stable life.

"He really didn't say too much," Rolle said, "but I know he lived his life pretty much scared every day of his life when he was down in Miami because those people were targeting him. At least, he's got peace now."

Rolle and Taylor, whose fathers were policemen in Homestead, Fla., started playing football together when they were 6 years old. They went on to become University of Miami teammates and NFL first-round draft picks. Both wore No. 21, Rolle for the Cardinals, Taylor for the Washington Redskins.

Rolle said he hadn't talked to Taylor in a while, and that the Redskin had withdrawn from the crowd he hung around with to build a new life with his girlfriend and young daughter.

"There was so much surrounding him," Rolle said. "Everyone was talking about him bad, so he just had to distance himself from everyone and live a life of his own. ... Within the last year, I've never seen anyone make such a dramatic change,"

Withdrawing from a bad crowd isn't easy, though, Rolle said.

"They say it was a burglary. It absolutely was not a burglary," he said. "Down South, where we're from, there were many people talking to Sean, a lot of jealousy, a lot of angry people.

"Sean, he had a large group of friends, and he no longer hung out with those friends, so you never know where this came from."

Rolle said his family rushed to the hospital to be with Taylor's family following the shooting.

"It really hasn't hit me yet," Rolle said, "the fact that I'm never going to see his face again, his ways, him performing on the field. My heart goes out to his girlfriend, his family, his little kid."

Rolle will leave immediately after Sunday's game against Cleveland on a flight to Miami, where he will attend Monday's memorial service. But Rolle wants fans to keep remembering Taylor as the player he was and the man he was becoming after some rough years.

"I'm going to keep his name alive," Rolle said. "Every time I make a play, I'm definitely going to mention him. I'm going to represent my 21 as his 21."

Rolle said he and Taylor became friends as 6-year-old teammates for the Homestead Hurricanes. Later, when they played against each other, Rolle was a running back and Taylor a linebacker.

"They'd call a sweep one way," Rolle said. "I would look at him on that side, and I would change the play myself and go the other way because I knew he would try to knock my head off."

Rolle was an All-American as a senior in 2004 and was picked eighth overall by the Cardinals. A year before, Taylor earned similar honors at Miami, then went to Washington as the fifth overall choice.

"I definitely will go out there and play and do everything I can do because I know how much he loved the game," Rolle said. "I don't think there was anyone who lived it or took it as seriously as he did. I just told myself I'm not going to let his name die. We started when we were 6 years old, and we're going to finish it together."