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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."

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 28, 2007; 6:51 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: Chris Paul: We Stand Together

Comments

Dan,
I'm a long-time reader of the Bog and a big fan. Thanks for all the great reporting.

I just went to nfl.com to see what kind of tributes they had up for Taylor, and I was extremely surprised to see that there was basically nothing. It wasn't one of the top stories, and there was no picture of Taylor posted. The entire story was reduced to a small headline that says, "Police have no suspects in Taylor case," which is hardly a tribute. Does the league really have that much contempt for Taylor? Is it going to do anything for him, other that a moment of silence at games this weekend? Seems like he deserves more.

Redskins.com does have some nice things up, though.

Posted by: Alex | November 28, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I've been following all of the Sean Taylor news here and elsewhere and must commend you on your coverage Dan. I know you aren't exactly a "local" and you're still trying to understand us, but you have done a great job in showing the different ways people in Redskin Nation react to this tragedy. I've heard that hit in the Pro-Bowl mentioned a few times on ESPN as evidence that Taylor wasn't a clean player. Even if it weren't Taylor, I'd say it was a good play. Also, that was one of the best Youtube videos I've ever seen.

Posted by: sitruc | November 28, 2007 10:34 PM | Report abuse

I, for probably the first time on this blog, would like to thank Dan Steinberg for his excellent coverage of not only this terrible tragedy, but his vast array of interesting tidbits and diversive points of view on this sports page.

Maybe it's just me, but the agenda stuff on some of the other popular blogs (cough cough RI) is a real turn off and on the DCSportsbog you just get the feeling there is no agenda.

It's refreshing. Kudos to Steinberg and co.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 28, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Brian Moorman was a great sport at the time and that struck with me. He's also about the most athletic punter ever.

I consider myself a Moormanator.

Posted by: Skin Patrol | November 29, 2007 12:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry -- did Alex (above) complain that NFL.COM doesn't have ENOUGH coverage of Taylor's death? Congratulations -- you've found the only media outlet that isn't treating this like the #1 story of the year, requiring 24-hour-news-cycle coverage when NOTHING is actually happening. What would you like see besides a moment of silence? Should the whole LEAGUE retire his jersey? Sheesh.

Posted by: TMU | November 29, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I was watching PTI and Mike Wilbon on Monday, after Sean was shot and before he died. Let me say I like PTI. After Wilbons comments where he compared his life to Seans I really will not miss watching this show. I thought he was totally off base not only about Sean but also by comparing himself to Sean and saying his he rose above a tough neighborhood etc. etc. This story is and was NOT about how great Mike Wilbon is, but really a tragedy that happens in life. I am also stunned that other members of press have not taken Mike Wilbon to task for his over the line remarks.

Posted by: Florida SKIN Fan | November 29, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

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