Brian Moorman Remembers
Sean Taylor slammed his body into more than his fair share of wide receivers and running backs and tight ends over the years, but the hit that's stamped into plenty of minds involves a punter. Yeah, a punter. At the Pro Bowl. Yeah, the Pro Bowl. The Bills' Brian Moorman, a former national champion hurdler and a member of the NCAA Division II Track and Field Hall of Fame, was carrying the ball on a fake punt. I'll let his teammates take over from there.
"I was watching it," safety George Wilson said. "I jumped up off the couch and was like, "OH MY GOODNESS!"
"At first when I had seen it I was like, 'Man, Sean just hit somebody so HARD, who was tha....oh that's Brian MOORMAN. Oh, Snap!'" cornerback Jabari Greer said.
"Some of the guys thought his jaw was broken," Josh Reed said. "I mean, did you see the hit?"
"That's what made him the player he was, that type of take-no-prisoners, cutthroat mentality," Coy Wire said. "As a football player, you've got to respect that. It's unfortunate that he had to do it to our punter."
To his eternal credit, Moorman immediately popped up off the ground and ran straight over to Taylor, just to let him know he wasn't still on the turf. "Nice hit," Moorman said he told Taylor, who was too busy celebrating to respond. They never managed to discuss the hit.
Moorman, of course, got a bit of playful kidding from teammates when they gathered for offseason workouts. "I'm like, 'What were you thinking, bro?'" Greer remembered telling the punter. "That's going to be a play that we'll definitely remember."
The highlight packages will make sure of that. While the hit has been wiped clean from YouTube, thanks to the NFL's copyright claims, it has appeared again and again in Taylor video retrospectives this week. Moorman, a team leader who has been to two consecutive Pro Bowls, has seen the tackle replayed before--although not this week--and he knows he'll always be linked with Taylor.
"It's strange," he said today. "Obviously it's a memory for me, and now it's become just very surreal, to know that tragedy has happened. Our thoughts are just with him and his family."
At the time, message boards were filled with discussions of whether Taylor had displayed excessive aggression in what was a glorified exhibition game, and blogs seized upon the video. "The Pro Bowl briefly refused to be about the sexiest cheerleaders in the AFC and NFC when Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins treated Buffalo Bills punter Brian Moorman like Ray Fosse," With Leather wrote at the time, referring to the catcher Pete Rose once flattened. "Ouch," summarized FanHouse. Some commentators hinted that the hit was somehow dirty or unsporting, but Moorman said he never felt that way.
"You know, a lot of people ask about that, but it was a clean football play and I have a lot of respect for him," he told me. "Any time a punter or kicker gets hit like that, it's kind of a topic of conversation. It's fun to rib me, it's fun for me to take it. It was always a light-hearted thing. I never had any hard feelings. At the end of the day somebody's got to make a tackle. It was my fault for running straight up."
And, um, dare we ask what it felt like?
"It definitely took my breath away for a minute, and then I was able to jump up and catch it and move on," Moorman said. "It looks a lot worse than it hurt."
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