As Bills bring back Brian Moorman, community wins

Brian Moorman, with writer Natalie Brophy, has made helping the community a priority throughout his National Football League career.

Brian Moorman, with writer Natalie Brophy, has made helping the community a priority throughout his National Football League career.

The beginning of the 2013-2014 NFL season was not off to the best start for Brian Moorman.

The 37-year-old NFL punter had just gotten released by the Pittsburgh Steelers during the preseason.

Last season he was unexpectedly cut from the team where he had spent the majority of his career, the Buffalo Bills, just three games into the season. He was replaced by Shawn Powell, a then 24-year-old rookie punter.

Brian was then signed by the Dallas Cowboys less than a day later and finished off the 2012 NFL season with them.

But now, in the fall of 2013, he was without a team for the first time in 12 years.

The rest of his professional football career was totally up in the air.

Would Brian Moorman ever play in the NFL again?

Turns out, the answer is yes.

Brian was living and training in Florida when he received a call from his agent telling him that a team was interested in having him come in for a workout.

This team was none other than the Buffalo Bills, the team that had cut him just last season.

Obviously wanting to continue his 14-year NFL career, Brian jumped on the chance to be signed by the Bills.

So, he flew from Florida to Buffalo, New York, practiced with the team and was signed the very next day, ironically replacing his replacement, Shawn Powell.

A lot of people were surprised by this move, including Brian himself, but he always hoped that he would one day be back in Buffalo.

“I felt like if they were wanting to make a change in the position, I definitely felt like I was a good fit,” said Brian. “I’m glad they gave me the opportunity to play and be back in Buffalo.”

The Western New York community is just as thrilled to have him back. But not just for his role on the football field.

In 2004, Brian started a charitable organization called the P.U.N.T Foundation to help families with children who are battling cancer.

“It’s been wonderful how many people are excited, not only for the fact that he’s back on the team and can contribute for the Bills’ season, but also because people know how lucky we are as a community to have somebody who’s so passionate about kids with cancer,” said Gwen Mysiak, the executive director of the P.U.N.T Foundation.

When Brian left the Bills last season to go play in Dallas, one of the things he was most concerned about was keeping his foundation going in Western New York.

“(The biggest challenge was) making sure that people knew and understood that we were going to keep the foundation going and to keep our programs in place and continue to help the families that we’ve been helping for the years that we’ve had it,” Brian recalled.

The foundation was able to continue to support the families even in Brian’s absence because of the support from the community and all of Gwen’s hard work.

“It’s been a crazy year for me,” said Gwen, who took over as the executive director of the foundation just a few months before Brian was cut last year. “But I was very excited to have the opportunity to grow the foundation and I knew how passionate Brian was about the foundation continuing.”

Now that Brian is back in Buffalo, he will be back to having a much more active role with the foundation, starting with his usual Tuesday visits to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, where he hangs out with the kids in the pediatric unit.

“They’re definitely an important part of my schedule,” Brian said, “because seeing those kids is very special and I love seeing the smiles on their faces.”

Natalie Brophy, LSY features editor

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