Athletes at Risk: Leagues, Players Scramble to Stay Safe

Washington Redskins tackle Chris Samuels says he plans to buy a gun. Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor says he will station the meanest dog he can find in his front yard.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter plans to try to keep a lower profile in public — as much as a multimillionaire athlete can, anyway. His sentiments are being echoed by the NFL, which is urging its players to "lower their profile as private citizens and try to avoid making it conspicuous that they are NFL players," league spokesman Greg Aiello says. "In other words, don't make it easy for people to target you."

Two weeks later, the gunshot that killed Redskins safety Sean Taylor continues to reverberate throughout the sports world, as professional athletes are still coming to grips with how their wealth and celebrity can make them vulnerable targets for crime.

Taylor was fatally shot in his suburban Miami home Nov. 26 by a would-be robber. Miami police have said one of the four suspects arrested in the slaying apparently had done yardwork for Taylor and another had been in the home for a birthday party for Taylor's stepsister.

Several pro athletes say Taylor's slaying has led them to beef up security and made them more wary of those around them. And at a time when seven- and even eight-figure salaries aren't unusual in major pro sports leagues, athletes say the slaying has led them to tighten their inner circles.

"We go to practice every day, and people know where we work," says Dallas Mavericks guard Jerry Stackhouse, a 12-year NBA veteran who made $9.2 million last season. "They can follow us from the arena."

Stackhouse says he often has his brother stay with his family when he's on trips and keeps dogs in his yard, "as my first line of defense."

Fred Taylor, who isn't related to Sean Taylor, is one of at least eight Jaguars players TheFlorida Times-Union reports are licensed to carry a concealed firearm. He told the Associated Press even though his house is equipped with a surveillance system, Sean Taylor's slaying has inspired him to get a dog that will "bite you till the death, right on that jugular."

Among the Redskins, Samuels told SportsIllustrated.com he plans to buy a gun for protection. And fullback Mike Sellers says he'll keep potential intruders guessing what they might encounter at his home.

"I have my ways," Sellers says. "I guess they'd have to find out if they tried to break into my house."

Tennessee Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck says Taylor's killing made him realize it's time to start activating his home's alarm every day. "It went off during a storm and scared me, and I turned it off," he says. "Definitely, I went back to using my alarm."

Hunter, who signed a five-year, $90 million contract last month, says Taylor's death points up how, "when you get money, you have a lot of friends who get jealous. They talk. They tell guys about what's inside your home, and the next thing you know, you've got trouble."

That, Hunter says, is "why I don't have an entourage. I fly solo. In an entourage, trust me, not all of those guys are going to be looking after your best interest. There's a lot of hating going on."

A reminder of that came early Sunday morning, when shots were fired at Jamaal Tinsley of the NBA's Indiana Pacers and several of his companions in Indianapolis.

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