By DJ Moore
The quarterback snaps the ball. He drops back to throw the pass, and DJ Moore intercepts it. The crowd goes wild, and it feels like I can do this forever. A month later reality hits, and the guy who was making plays is desperately searching for a new team. The NFL slogan for players has always been “Not For Long,” but exactly how long is so unpredictable.
I remember it like yesterday – enjoying the fruits of my labor on the field, and having a great time in the locker room with my teammates. Then without warning, I was out of a job with no backup plan. I was highly productive in Chicago with the Bears and thought I might be regarded as a player with value in free agency, but that was not the case. I should have seen the warning signs sooner rather than later. Prideful, I pushed on and finally after stressful weeks of free agency signed with the Carolina panthers.
I hit the ground running, making the most of my opportunities. I was turning heads on the field. I do want to mention I also had a bit of an attitude problem, so as much as I turned them on, I may have turned them off. The season was getting ready to start, and I won the starting nickel back position. The day before the first preseason game, I injured my ankle and was unable to play the first game. As my injury slowed me down, my attitude picked up. I finally returned to play a couple of games and was injured in the second game of the season against Buffalo. I sprained my MCL and would not see the field again. I was cut my first day of returning to practice.
In my head, I was highly sought, and again, I was very wrong. I went to work out for the Cowboys, Saints, Colts, and Lions. They all were great workouts, but nothing came from any of them. The more I worked out and didn’t get picked up, the more my ego was crushed. I had a hard time making sense of that fact that just a few months back I was picking off Tony Romo in Big D, and now I couldn’t find a job.
My agent stopped calling or even picking up the phone if I called him. I had a tough time coming to the realization that this would be it for me.
Lovie Smith was getting buzz about being the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs. This was my last shot. I texted him a patient text about playing for him again once he got the job, and the next day my agent called me with a workout in Tampa. The workout went great, and I was signed to one year deal.
Everything started out perfectly, and I picked up where I left off. Then an unfortunate set of events led to me spraining my calf. I sat out of minicamp, and one of the youngsters was making play after play. I was tasked with personally helping the youngster develop at the position – basically helping him replace me.
The day arrived, and Lovie called me in the office a day before camp started and informed me that it was time for me to go. I was shocked a little about the situation. I called my wife to let her know, but I knew that was it for me. The NFL is a beautiful league, but how long you will last in that league is a mystery. I have seen great players last a year and not-so-great players play for ten years. When it’s time to hang it up, you will know or better yet the league will inform you.
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