The sight was undeniably odd.
Former Buffalo Bills punter Brian Moorman was addressing a group of attentive seventh-graders at Orchard Park Middle School on Friday – in his white No. 2 Dallas Cowboys jersey.
“Things in life don’t always go the way you think they’re going to go,” Moorman told the crowd, “… it’s how you respond to them that builds your character.”
While Moorman was making a larger point to his audience, the words rang particularly true for him. It’s been 11 days since the Bills released Moorman, who had spent the previous 11 years with the team.
“They just wanted to go in another direction, and I respect them for that. That’s fine,” Moorman said about the Bills’ decision. “I think they’ve been trying to do that for a while, and I’m proud that I made it hard on them. Do I agree with it? No. Who would?”
It didn’t take Moorman long to land on his feet. He was signed by the Cowboys the day after being cut.
“The organization’s great. I love the coaches. I love what they’re doing. I’m really enjoying it,” he said. “I’m falling in love with the game again. I love going to work. It’s just a nice change and I look forward to the future.”
There has been a lot of speculation about the reason for Moorman’s release, most of it centering on a perceived rift with special teams coach Bruce DeHaven.
Moorman took the high road on that, saying simply that the two haven’t spoken.
“I’m proud to have been part of this organization for a long time. I thank Mr. Wilson for all the time that he’s given me here,” Moorman said. “I’ve had some great coaches over the years and I’ve still got great relationships with them. I know that will parlay into more opportunities, because they know the kind of player I am.”
Moorman made his Dallas debut on Monday Night Football. He punted three times for an average of 37 yards, with two of those kicks being downed at the opponent’s 6-yard line.
“I’ll take the positive of the fact that I know I haven’t lost anything in my ability to play,” he said. “What I’ve lost is the chance to finish my career here as a Buffalo Bill, which was always the goal. But I’m going to make a positive out of a negative, and try to be a positive influence on people that maybe need that. I’m not going to look back at it and try to create waves or anything like that.”
Moorman was in town during the Cowboys’ bye week. He visited the school to honor four students – Claire Pawlak, Zoe Evans, Abbey McDonnell and Brooke Pohlman – for raising $5,000 for Camp Good Days and Carly’s Club, and another $1,000 for Moorman’s P.U.N.T. Foundation, which provides support to families fighting pediatric cancer.
Moorman’s foundation will continue in Western New York despite his release.
“I didn’t ever think I’d be wearing a Cowboys jersey when I came to speak to them. We had talked about setting this up before any of that happened,” he said. “I intended to come up here and speak as a Buffalo Bill and now I’m speaking as a Dallas Cowboy. Whether I’m there two weeks or the rest of the season, I don’t know, but that’s life. I’ve decided that I’m going to respond to this in a positive way. I’m trying not to look back.”
The Cowboys’ regular punter, Chris Jones, missed the last game because of a sprained left knee, but is hoping to return after the bye week.
“I don’t know what the future holds there. Obviously I’m just kind of filling in right now,” Moorman said. “I don’t know what the injury situation is with their guy, but I’m glad for the opportunity and glad to be there.”
He made clear, however, how much Buffalo means to him.
“I still have a lot of friends in that locker room that I want to see succeed. The support I had from my teammates, I can’t really express how important that was to me. The fans, they’re amazing,” he said. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the people of Buffalo and the Buffalo Bills fans throughout the country. It’s been a difficult week because it was unexpected, but I’ve got the best fans you could ever have. Teammates, family, friends, they all made it easier.”
The sight was undeniably odd.