(Note: This story was originally published Oct. 4, 2014 prior to the Seahawks' game against the Washington Redskins. Seahawks.com has chosen to feature the story again on April 1, 2015 - what would have been Sean Taylor's 32nd birthday)
No matter the opponent, you can find Kam Chancellor dissecting film of the Washington Redskins before every game.
The Seahawks strong safety isn't reliving his team's 2012 wild-card playoff win over the NFC East foe, no. He's watching highlights of former Redskins safety Sean Taylor, the team's 2004 first-round draft pick who Chancellor says he has tried to model his game after.
"Just the tenacity of it," Chancellor admired of Taylor''s play from his locker this week ahead of Seattle's Monday Night Football matchup with the Redskins in Washington, D.C. "The way he showed his passion for the game and the way that he used his God-given ability. He was blessed to be tall, blessed to be strong, blessed to run fast, and he used every bit of his body in his game.
"That's something I was definitely inspired by about him - just using his God-given ability and taking advantage of it."
Chancellor, a Norfolk, Va. native who grew up a fan of the nearby Redskins, refers to Taylor's on-field efforts in the past-tense because the Washington safety died on Nov. 27, 2007. Injuries from a gunshot he sustained by intruders to his Miami-area home brought a far-too-early end to the 24-year-old's life and promising NFL career.
"Before every game I've got to watch him," Chancellor said. "It just puts more aggression into me, man. Just like, 'Boom' - this is what I've got to do. I watch it and say, 'This is what I've got to do every game.' "
At 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, Chancellor has even more size than the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Taylor did. To accentuate their intimidating stature, the pair has showcased a rare combination of speed, strength, and agility while demonstrating a hard-hitting mentality that made each a true game-changing force.
In his nearly four seasons with the Redskins (2004-07), Taylor racked up 344 tackles, 12 interceptions, 41 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, and was named to the Pro Bowl twice.
After four seasons with the Seahawks (2010-13), Chancellor's numbers looked eerily similar to Taylor's - 290 tackles, seven interceptions, 25 passes defensed, three forced fumbles, two Pro Bowl honors, and one second-team All-Pro mention. And it's worth noting the Seahawks' 2010 fifth-round pick spent his rookie year as a reserve behind veteran Lawyer Milloy.
Chancellor was in his second season at Virginia Tech when Taylor died. He took the news of his hero's passing particularly hard.
"It was tough because I knew I wasn't going to get a chance to meet him," Chancellor said. "That was one of the guys I wanted a chance to meet and try to get some insight from, think like he thinks, pick his brain a little bit. But unfortunately I didn't get a chance to."
If given a chance, Chancellor said he'd ask Taylor what drove him to play the way he did. Then, he'd ask Taylor if he could train alongside him to catch a glimpse of the things Taylor did to keep his game sharp.
Missing that opportunity to meet Taylor has motivated Chancellor to go out of his way to make sure he connects with up-and-coming athletes who admire his own play.
"I kind of want to finish out the legacy myself," Chancellor said. "I'm always there trying to reach out to the guys who say they look up to me now. I try to reach back and not let them miss their opportunity to talk to me."
And despite missing a chance to meet his role model, the Seahawks' defensive captain is adamant Taylor's presence is there with every hit he delivers.
"He's still with me forever," Chancellor said of his link to Taylor. "He's with me in the game, on my shoulder every week."