WATCH! Paulinho scores stunning for Flamengo

first_imgCheck out this stunning volley from Paulinho [not the former Tottenham one] during Flamengo’s clash with Chapecoense over the weekend.last_img

‘I tend not to listen to pundits on Match of the Day’ – Steve McClaren hits back at Newcastle legend

first_img1 Newcastle manager Steve McClaren has responded to widespread criticism about his managerial style and the mental state of his players.The Magpies are languishing in the Premier League’s bottom three after 14 games and have conceded eight goals in their last two league games against Leicester and Crystal Palace.Former captain Alan Shearer was withering in his Match of the Day analysis last weekend, suggesting his former club has too many “Monday to Friday” players and bemoaning the lack of an obvious plan.But McClaren responded: “I tend not to listen to pundits on Match of the Day or any other programme. People make me aware [of their comments] and they’re interesting.“I’ve been a pundit myself and it’s a great job. It’s the best job in the world. Football’s about opinions. There are lots of TV and radio programmes. When you’re asked, you have to give an opinion. It’s what you’re paid for.“You respect that opinion from people who have played football at the highest, highest level. I’ve got no criticism of that. But we tend not to focus [on them], though one or two things are very interesting.”The heavy 5-1 defeat at Palace last Saturday led to claims that McClaren’s players were losing interest with some even accused of not trying.However, the former England boss, who will lead his troops into battle with a rejuvenated Liverpool on Sunday, said: “You cross that white line and you play in front of 52,000 people, believe you me, you have got to try.“When you are lacking in confidence and you are lacking in belief, you are not getting results and performances and you are a young player coming into a new situation, or an old one that’s always there, it’s very difficult to turn that around, very difficult.“It looks like, from the outside, they are not trying, they are not running, they are not working. I thought that and we looked at the stats and they are exactly the same. But it looks like they are not trying.“But they are and we see that. We are trying to build it every week and I see it in training, and we need to transfer that confidence that we have and that belief that we have in the week into a Saturday.” Steve McClaren last_img read more

Breaking reports: Chelsea to meet striker’s agent TODAY for talks over transfer deal

first_img Ezequiel Lavezzi 1 Ezequiel Lavezzi’s agent has travelled to London today to hold talks with Chelsea, according to reports in Italy.talkSPORT told you earlier this week that Fenerbahce had joined Chelsea in the race to land the out-of-favour Paris Saint-Germain striker, while Inter Milan also retain an interest.However, according to Sky Italia, Chelsea are in advanced negotiations with Lavezzi’s representatives and are now clear favourites to sign the Argentine.Whether a deal can be struck this month remains to be seen. Lavezzi’s contract at PSG expires at the end of the season so Chelsea may prefer to wait until then when they can nab him on a free.PSG are resigned to Lavezzi leaving and have given the go-ahead for the player’s agent to try and seal a switch this month.last_img read more

Jamie Carragher defends Gary Neville: ‘Credit to him for having the balls to take on the Valencia job!’

first_imgJamie Carragher has praised Gary Neville for taking on the Valencia job, and he hopes his former TV sidekick can turn things around at the Spanish club.Neville has endured a nightmare start to his managerial career since swapping the SkySports studio for the Mestalla dugout in December.He is yet to win a La Liga game in eight attempts and oversaw a humiliating 7-0 defeat to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey in midweek.The Manchester United legend star is already facing calls to resign and Carragher, who formed a brilliant on-screen relationship with Neville at Sky, has sympathy for his one-time Premier League rival.In an exclusive interview with Drivetime, Carragher said: “I think Gary said when he first went there that his first five or six months won’t determine if he is a success or failure as a coach.“It is a difficult job. The language barrier is obviously the biggest problem he has got and there are problems there with players that have been brought in and with certain agents involved.“This thing of ‘oh, he is good on the TV but it is a lot easier than being a manager’. Well, of course it is, but it is a completely different job.“On TV you can spot certain situations and you can put that across to the fan that enjoys that analytical side of it. It is a totally different job to be a manager.“Just because you are a good manager doesn’t mean you will be good on TV and if you are good on TV it doesn’t automatically mean you will be a good manager. It is a completely different job“But I think credit to him for having the balls to take the job. Hopefully, it will turn around for him because I want him to do well.”last_img read more

Quique Sanchez Flores tells side ‘we do not want a replay’ ahead of Leeds FA Cup

first_imgWatford manager Quique Sanchez Flores has told his side he wants to finish their FA Cup fifth-round tie against Leeds at the first attempt.The Hornets welcome Leeds to Vicarage Road on Saturday looking to continue a memorable season which, aside from making progress in the cup, also sees them pushing hard for a finish in the top half of the Barclays Premier League.Watford are currently ninth in the table but have a potentially key run of fixtures coming up which sees them play fellow promoted side Bournemouth before facing five successive matches against top-10 sides in Manchester United, Leicester, West Ham, Stoke and Arsenal. Prior to those games Watford take on Leeds in the cup, and Flores is keen to complete the job at the first time of asking.“We do not want a replay, we just want to win,” said the Spaniard.Leeds are 16th in the Sky Bet Championship table and their only win in their last four games was last month’s 2-1 triumph over Bolton in the fourth round of the FA Cup.Watford will be favourites to go through to the quarter-finals, but Flores acknowledges Leeds will be no pushovers.He said: “I saw Leeds play in the Champions League against Valencia and saw how important that team was but football is football, it is very difficult to know what will happen in the future. Now they are in the Championship but we respect the history of the team.“For us, they have a good team, they play with power, they try to play football, they have three players in the middle who want to play well so we have to think about how we play this game.“It will not be easy, they have really good players, they will want to win.”Flores has done his homework on Leeds, but says his main focus now will be on what his own side are going to do.He said: “We are in the task to correct our shape, our system and now we are focusing more on our team than the other team, but that is not just in the FA Cup.“I always say that when we play against another team 80 per cent is for us and the other 20 per cent is for the other team.“Mostly it is about what we can do and then I will try to reduce the attack of the other team.“We have a mission for every single match – we want to win every single match.“This match is a little bit different because it is the first time where I play rounds that are just one match, it is like a final.” 1last_img read more

Ferragamo relives an era of dominance

first_imgOslund out West Torrance quarterback Marc Oslund will miss this week’s Bay League opener against Mira Costa after aggravating a knee injury in Friday’s 42-7 win over North Torrance, according to West coach Greg Holt. Ronnie Clark will start in Oslund’s place. Holt said Oslund went to a doctor on Saturday and underwent an MRI on Monday, but did not know how long Oslund might be shelved. “It’s the same injury he had,” Holt said. “He did not get it checked earlier, but maybe it’s something he can take care of now. “The only thing I know for sure is that he’s out this week.” No more McDonald The Torrance boys water polo team had expectations of doing well in the Ocean League and reaching the CIF playoffs this season. But those expectations took a big hit when leading scorer Ryan McDonald went down with a broken hand in an out-of-pool incident more than a week ago. McDonald led Torrance with a school-record 103 goals last season and was on pace to shatter that mark. He had 89 goals before league play even started. “I’m still not sure exactly how it happened, but he’s out for the season,” Torrance coach Scott Peppard said. “I believe we would have been a CIF team with him. Without him, we’re looking at third or fourth place in our league.” Adler, Kalinowski in leading roles Heading into Wednesday’s second Bay League cross country meet at Entradero Park (starting at 3 p.m.), the Mira Costa boys are one of the area’s biggest surprises. The Mustangs won the league title last season, but did it without a frontrunner. But it is clear that Alex Adler (the South Bay Cup champion) and Danny Kalinowski have become bona fide leading men, battling Leuzinger’s Jose Lezama for league supremacy. “They’re showing the entire South Bay that they’re not going to sit back and let anyone win,” Mira Costa coach Matt Harris said. “Step for step, they’re fired up. And physically, we still feel like they have a lot to give. We’re very excited about them.” Harris said that Mitchell Giles, William Hollingsworth, Martin Ensberry and Adam Conover have made a difference by continuing to tighten the pack. “We knew we were going to be good this year, but the second pack has been the difference for us so far this season,” Harris said. Bump on the road, head No. 1 doubles player Natasha Bothwell tumbled head over heels defending a return in her second doubles set in Thursday’s 10-8 Bay League victory for the Mira Costa girls tennis team at Peninsula. She kept playing with partner Casey Reed, helping the duo win its final two sets, but started experiencing dizziness and dilated pupils later in the day. Bothwell was diagnosed as having a mild concussion and was told to suspend all tennis-related activities for 48 hours. “We basically had to make her go,” Mira Costa coach Joe Ciasulli said. “I think she suspected the doctor was going to tell her to take time off. She would have been really bummed if she had to miss a match.” Marquee matchup on hold Redondo’s Della Taylor and Mira Costa’s Nicole Gibbs are the only two girls tennis players with unblemished Bay League records. It will likely stay that way for another three weeks. Mira Costa coach Joe Ciasulli said he does not expect his freshman standout to play in Thursday’s match at Mira Costa so she can be fresh for her tournament schedule as a nationally ranked junior circuit player. “I certainly wouldn’t count on (her playing in the match),” Ciasulli said. “The showdown with Taylor will have to wait until the last match of the season.” That season finale will be Oct. 29 at Redondo. Shake-ups West Torrance and South Torrance have new assistant principals, new athletic directors and new boys and girls basketball coaches. Karim Girgis, a 10-year boys basketball coach at West, has been promoted to assistant principal in charge of athletics, replacing Ben Egan, who became principal. Bill Atkinson, an assistant under Girgis, takes over as both girls basketball coach and athletic director. Vince Comparsi, another Girgis assistant, takes over the boys program from Girgis, who had a 233-124 record in his 13-year career. South also reorganized its basketball program. The Spartans hired Leo Klemm, a former St. Monica coach who also won a state title in Indiana, to replace Leonard Butler. Mike Caporaso takes over the girls team from Mario Trutanic after serving three years as an assistant. Former South pitcher Dana Kuwahara takes over as softball coach. Kevin Van Waardenburg is South’s new athletic director, and Chad Mabery is the new assistant principal in charge of athletics. Back on top Mira Costa returned to the top national rank in’s national poll. The Mustangs (6-0) are the fourth different team to be ranked No. 1 by the Web site. The Mustangs began the Bay League with an easy victory over Palos Verdes before heading to the Durango Tournament in Las Vegas last weekend, which featured four teams ranked in the top 25 nationally. Redondo slipped to No. 35 nationally after being ranked as high as No. 13 to begin the season. – Dave Thorpe, Tony Ciniglio, David Saunders, John Klima160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! It seemed like the Banning football team turned back the clock Friday when it stunned previously unbeaten Venice, 21-19, to boost its record to 5-0 heading into Marine League play this week. Ferragamo said the win reminded him of the old days when he guided Banning to eight of its 11 L.A. City titles, including six in a row from 1976-1982. “Great defense, pounding it on the ground, winning by one or two points, that’s old-school football,” Ferragamo said. When Ferragamo retook the reins of the Banning football program last season, the team struggled, particularly in two losses to Venice, a 39-20 defeat in Week 5 and a 55-7 beating in the first round of the L.A. City Section Championships. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas CityThe losses stuck with Ferragamo, and that is why the win was such a big deal. “For me, it’s real sweet,” Ferragamo said. “Last year in the playoffs we lost, 55-7. I wanted to erase that from my forehead.” Banning’s strong offensive line and its strategy of keeping the ball away from Venice star running back and kick returner Curtis McNeal paid dividends. The Pilots defense created three turnovers, another key to the victory. “We teach defense first,” Ferragamo said. “Knock it down, strip it, grab it and pounce on it.” last_img read more

Bargain Hunter: Look here for cheap airfare at 11th hour

first_imgDON’T BREAK THE BANK: A friend recently told me about, a Web site that has supercheap, last-minute airfares. A weekend round-trip ticket to New York City that gave me just a few hours to pack was $462.60. Most of the time when you search for a flight just hours in advance, you are talking four digits, minimum. Buying a ticket to the Big Apple a weekend out cut the price to $314.20. Bada-boom, bada-bing! Their site also lets you search top destinations, deals or packages. They also make reservations for rental cars and hotels. LINCOLN LUNCH CHILI: Grabbed a meal for a fiver (ya know, the bill with Lincoln on it) in Canoga Park at Follow Your Heart restaurant. The food is vegetarian with many vegan options, but don’t let the lack of dead animals scare you away. The food is hearty, well-spiced and makes you feel good. I like their chili, though a few of the beans were a tad more al dente than I prefer. A cup is $3.50 and a bowl is $4.95 and comes with crackers or a roll. A half-salad is also nearly a Lincoln Lunch at $5.50. If you want to splurge, go for a mocha milkshake (dairy or nondairy), which easily feeds two, for $3.75. The restaurant is at the back of the grocery story on the left. Cozy place. Visit them at 21825 Sherman Way in Canoga Park. (818) 348-3240. BAG A MAG: has a $5 off coupon for a short list of magazines that actually includes some good ones. No Montana Fly Fisherman here, folks. (With apologies to those who fly-fish in the Big Sky state.) The coupon gives you 10 issues of Women’s Health for $10 or 10 issues of Everyday Food for $13. Runner’s World, which I enjoy reading when I’m not running (so basically, all the time), is $15 for 12 issues. Go to for the coupon. Expires Nov. 15. OPPOSITE OF SPAM: Forgive this brief self-promotion: I now e-mail a daily digest of all the day’s blog posts, so you don’t have to visit the Web site or wait for Thursday’s column. Just e-mail me at [email protected], and I will add it to the list. It’s much better than getting spam and it’s free, though some readers have asked what I charge, contributing to the overinflation of my ego! The digest may even help you save a buck or three. SAVE ON A FLU SHOT: It’s that time of year when you start sniffling and snuffling and aching and coughing. Time to get a flu shot. If your internal clock has not already told you so here is a reminder: GET A FLU SHOT! I *really* don’t want to catch your germs when you decide you are healthy enough to come to work and sneeze on me. I have even found you a few places to get a flu shot at a decent price. At my doctor’s office it is $28 plus my $15 co-pay. Yikes! I’m definitely not going there. The lowest price is at Sam’s Club, which is having a three-day promotion today through Saturday where they are giving flu shots for $20, no membership necessary. Sadly, the San Fernando and Santa Clarita locations are not coming up as participating, but Palmdale, Glendora and Oxnard are. If you do go, the hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today and Friday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The going rate at CVS, Rite Aid, Longs Drugs and Walgreens is $30. Some require appointments, others have age minimums. Check each chain’s Web site for details. Note: Rite Aid’s flu clinic ends today. FREE MINIHIGHLIGHTS: Yossi’s Salon in Woodland Hills had so much success with earlier coupons I posted on the blog that he is offering a new deal for Bargain Hunter readers. Free six-foil highlights and a clear cellophane treatment. Now, six foils are not enough to do your whole head, but will frame your face with a few wisps of color. He is offering the freebie until Oct. 31 to attract more customers. Not bad if you want to do a test run before plopping down major dollars to highlight your whole noggin. Visit them at 5349 Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Woodland Hills. (818) 825-3467. Tell Yossi you read it on the Bargain Hunter! WORLD PEACE CAN WAIT: A funny story – or sad depending on your sense of humor – in the paper recently. More people want a computer for Christmas than peace and happiness, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. (Not that they’re biased, or anything.) I’m sure you and I will take the high road – all we *really* want is a slip of paper saying a contribution to our favorite charity has been made, right? For a miniguide to buying a computer, go to Save a buck at local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.STAPLES 12 PERCENT OFF: Staples is appreciating its customers – more than they usually do – until Saturday with a 12 percent off coupon that is good on most items. For in-store purchases, not online. Go to for the printable coupon. Caveats: Offer excludes personal computers, laptops, phone cards, postage stamps and a few other items. BEST BETS FOR BRUINS GEAR: Having a hard time finding UCLA gear on sale? Tell me about it. You crazy fans buy so much of this stuff the prices are up there! But you don’t have to pay full price. After a Web search, I found at least one place that has gear at relatively reasonable prices. At, T-shirts were $16 to $22, sweat shirts were $41 to $61 and hats were $15 to $22. At, the apparel selection was basically limited to 2007 Final Four stuff. A sweat shirt was $46, a T-shirt was $26, and a hat was $27. Not exactly jaw-dropping. has the best prices I’ve seen so far. Their sweat shirts were $25 to $45 with a good variety of colors and styles. Most are hooded, though. A dark-navy, nonhood sweat shirt was $35. A note to USC fans: I haven’t forgotten about you! last_img read more

Myanmar lifts curfew, assembly ban

first_imgYANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar lifted a curfew on Saturday and ended a ban on assembly imposed during a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests – the latest sign the military rulers are confident they have fully crushed the largest demonstrations in two decades. The White House dismissed the move as “cosmetic,” a day after President George W. Bush announced new penalties against the military-run government. “The actions of the regime are `cosmetic.’ What we need are signs of serious intent to move toward a democratic transition,” presidential press secretary Dana Perino said. The relaxing of restrictions imposed Sept. 25 was announced from government vehicles driven through the streets of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.“The curfew and ban on assembly has been revoked effective today because security and stability has improved,” according to the announcement issued from a speaker atop one of the vehicles. It was not immediately clear if the restrictions were also lifted in Mandalay, another major city and a focus of last month’s anti-government demonstrations. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Paid volunteer

first_imgRe “Getting paid to volunteer” (Nov. 17): L.A. taxpayers should object to city departments offering up paid services of public-employee “volunteers.” Isn’t the Housing Department confessing its head count is over-bloated and its staff are underutilized? How “essential” is a paid city service that the private sector will happily volunteer to do for free? Then there’s the matter of paid public support of a past president’s nonprofit enterprise. By association with the highest office in government, and the Democratic Party, this activity can’t help but convey political messages, intended or not. There are probably other reasons why taxpayer-paid “volunteerism” is simply bad policy. – Randy Ferman Los Angeles L.A. salaries Re “Salaries still soaring for L.A. officials” (Nov. 16): Council members accepting pay raises justify it by saying that it is automatic, in the charter, and tied to judicial raises. Isn’t it true that it was a city councilman who thought of this pay-raise scheme about 20 years ago and it was voted in by that city council? So any council member with a true conviction of their words who says that they shouldn’t be getting a raise now can get this system changed. Another part of this story pertaining to the budget is how many judges have been rewarded with that 20percent pay increase over the past two years. The claim that judges usually make far less than the attorneys appearing before them is about as surprising as knowing that the referees and umpires make far less than the baseball players they are judging. – Richard Fisk Granada Hills Suing EPA Re “Sue away” (Our Opinions, Nov. 13): You did the right thing in supporting the California suit against the U.S. EPA to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, producing “cleaner air and economic savings.” However, you also say, “We might be in the middle of an inevitable cycle of warming.” It is true that increased emissions from the sun are slightly warming the planet, but that effect accounts for less than 10percent of the observed increase in global warming. Science has proven the other 90percent is caused by human-related emissions, principally the burning of fossil fuels, but also from many other chemical and pesticide emissions, as well as from increased production of beef (which produces tons of methane). – Jim Stewart Sierra Club, Angeles Chapter Barry Bonds Re “Homer king strikes out” (Nov. 16): Having played baseball for many years when I was much younger, I know that hitting a baseball is not indicative of being big and strong, but of hand-to-eye coordination and exceptional timing. It is the same in golf. Steroids don’t enhance hand-to-eye coordination and timing. Natural ability and baseball knowledge do. Let’s remember who helped him develop these skills. They were his father, Bobby Bonds, and, of course, one of the greatest hitters of all time, his godfather, Willie Mays. OK, if he is indicted for perjury and/or obstruction of justice and he is guilty, he should be punished, but we shouldn’t take away his accomplishments because we think steroids enhanced these skills or the media doesn’t like the way he treats them. – Davis Brown Santa Clarita Depends Re “Judge orders O.J., 2 others to trial” (Nov. 15): Hopefully, the next 12 jurors won’t be fans of O.J. Simpson. – Susan Murphy Panorama City160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre center_img Lake View Terrace Layoffs? Why do Los Angeles department heads forget who pays the bills? We taxpayers do and we are very upset that these people encourage their employees’ time off to volunteer yet get full pay. No, no, no, that is not how it works. And if these department heads do not understand this simple premise, then get people in who do. Another thing that is obvious is if employees get time off to volunteer, then there must not be enough work to stay and work for the city and layoffs must follow. – Geraldine Thompson last_img read more

Redskins safety Sean Taylor dies after being shot

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsTwo carloads of mourners, including Taylor’s father, arrived at the house Tuesday morning. They remained inside and did not speak to reporters. A single bouquet of flowers was left by a palm tree just outside a front gate. Beside the mailbox, an untouched newspaper lay with news of Taylor’s shooting. Doctors had been encouraged late Monday when Taylor squeezed a nurse’s hand, according to Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins’ vice president of football operations. But Sharpstein said he was told Taylor never regained consciousness after being transported to the hospital and that he wasn’t sure how he had squeezed the nurse’s hand. “Maybe he was trying to say goodbye or something,” Sharpstein said. Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft following an All-American season at the University of Miami, was shot early Monday in the upper leg, damaging an artery and causing significant blood loss. MIAMI – Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday, a day after the Pro Bowl player was shot at home by what police say was an intruder. He was 24. Family friend Richard Sharpstein said Taylor’s father told him the news around 5:30 a.m. “His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me,” said Sharpstein, Taylor’s former lawyer. “It’s a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans.” Taylor died at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he had been airlifted after the shooting early Monday, Sharpstein said. “According to a preliminary investigation, it appears that the victim was shot inside the home by an intruder,” Miami-Dade County police said in a statement. But police were still investigating the attack, which came just eight days after an intruder was reported at Taylor’s home. Officers were sent to the home about 1:45 a.m. Monday after Taylor’s girlfriend called 911. Sharpstein said Taylor’s girlfriend told him the couple was awakened by loud noises, and Taylor grabbed a machete he keeps in the bedroom for protection. Someone then broke through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missing and one hitting Taylor, Sharpstein said. Taylor’s 1-year-old daughter, Jackie, was also in the house, but neither she nor Taylor’s girlfriend were injured. Police found signs of forced entry, but have not determined if they were caused Monday, or the previous burglary. The shooting happened in the pale yellow house he bought two years ago. Eight days before the attack someone pried open a front window, rifled through drawers and left a kitchen knife on a bed at Taylor’s home, according to police. “They’re really sifting through that incident and today’s incident,” Miami-Dade Detective Mario Rachid said, “to see if there’s any correlation.” Born April 1, 1983, Taylor starred as a running back and defensive back at Gulliver Prep in Miami. His father, Pedro Taylor, is police chief of Florida City. A private man with a small inner circle, Taylor rarely granted interviews. But, behind the scenes, Taylor was described as personable and smart – an emerging locker room leader. “From the first day I met him, from then to now, it’s just like night and day,” Redskins receiver James Thrash said Monday. “He’s really got his head on his shoulders and has been doing really well as far as just being a man. It’s been awesome to see that growth.” After Taylor was drafted, problems soon began. Taylor fired his agent, then skipped part of the NFL’s mandatory rookie symposium, drawing a $25,000 fine. Driving home late from a party during the season, he was pulled over and charged with drunken driving. The case was dismissed in court, but by then it had become a months-long distraction for the Redskins. Taylor also was fined at least seven times for late hits, uniform violations and other infractions over his first three seasons, including a $17,000 penalty for spitting in the face of Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman during a 2006 playoff game. Meanwhile, Taylor endured a yearlong legal battle after he was accused in 2005 of brandishing a gun at a man during a fight over allegedly stolen all-terrain vehicles near Taylor’s home. He eventually pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation. Taylor said the end of the assault case was like “a gray cloud” being lifted. It was also around the time that his daughter was born, and teammates noticed a change. “It’s hard to expect a man to grow up overnight,” said teammate and close friend Clinton Portis, who played with Taylor at Miami. “But ever since he had his child, it was like a new Sean, and everybody around here knew it. He was always smiling, always happy, always talking about his child.” On the field, Taylor’s play was often erratic. Assistant coach Gregg Williams frequently called Taylor the best athlete he’d ever coached, but nearly every big play was mitigated by a blown assignment. Taylor led the NFL in missed tackles in 2006 yet made the Pro Bowl because of his reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the league. This year, however, Taylor was allowed to play a true free safety position, using his speed and power to chase down passes and crush would-be receivers. His five interceptions tie for the league lead in the NFC, even though he missed the last two games because of a sprained knee. “I just take this job very seriously,” Taylor said in a rare group interview during training camp. “It’s almost like, you play a kid’s game for a king’s ransom. And if you don’t take it serious enough, eventually one day you’re going to say, `Oh, I could have done this, I could have done that.’ “So I just say, `I’m healthy right now, I’m going into my fourth year, and why not do the best that I can?’ And that’s whatever it is, whether it’s eating right or training myself right, whether it’s studying harder, whatever I can do to better myself.” His hard work was well-noted. “He loved football. He felt like that’s what he was made to do,” Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. “And I think what I’ve noticed over the last year and a half … is he matured. I think his baby had a huge impact on him. There was a real growing up in his life.” For more news and observations about crime in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, check out the Daily News’ crime blog by clicking here.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img