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Top 50 All-Time Bills, No. 36: P Brian Moorman

Brian Moorman is the man, and he levitates.  <a href="">(photo source)</a>
Brian Moorman is the man, and he levitates. (photo source)

P Brian Moorman (2001-present) | 6'0", 172 lbs

Notable Achievements: 2x Pro Bowl Selection (2005, 2006), 2x First Team All-Pro (2005, 2006), 3x Pro Bowl Alternate (2002, 2004, 2007), Member of Bills 50th Anniversary Team

Brian Donald Moorman was born in Wichita, Kansas on February 5, 1976.  He graduated from Sedgwick High School in Sedgwick, Kansas where he lettered in football, track and basketball. Proving himself to be a great athlete, Moorman was a three-time state hurdle champion and an all-state selection in football and basketball.  Following his tremendous high school athletic career, Moorman went on to become a Gorilla, playing collegiately at Pittsburg State in Kansas, the same school that crackpot actor Gary Busey played football at.  During his four years in college, Moorman earned All-American honors in each season becoming the first player in school history to achieve such a feat.  He was named first team All-Conference in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association each season, as well.

Proving his athleticism off the football field, Moorman also put together an incredible track career.  He was named to the All-Conference team in each of his four years, for both indoor and outdoor track.  He earned first team All-American honors in the 400 meter hurdles from 1997-1999.  Most impressively, Moorman was the 400m National Champion from 1997-1999.  Off the field/track, he was a six-time Academic All-American, for both sports. He still holds the school record for yards per punt (43.97 yards) and in the 110m hurdles (13.81 seconds), and was named to the football program's 100th Anniversary Team in 2003.  Moorman graduated as the most decorated male athlete in school history, and as a result, will be inducted into the Pittsburg State Athletics Hall of Fame on September 4 for his football and track accomplishments.  Despite all his athletic achievements, Moorman went undrafted in 1999.

Career Highlights
After failing to be selected in the 1999 NFL Draft, Moorman wound up signing with the Seahawks on April 24 of that year.  He spent 1999 and 2000 in the Seahawks training camp, but failed to earn a roster spot.  He was allocated to NFL Europe in 2000 where he was assigned to the Berlin Thunder.  He would spend two seasons in Europe leading the league in punting in both 2000 and 2001.  The Bills signed him as a free agent on July 20, 2001, which would be the birth of a brilliant NFL career for Moorman.  He handled punting and kickoff duties during his "rookie" season and put up what would be career low numbers.  His 40.8 yards per punt and 33.8 net yards per punt are the lowest averages in his career.  He's been booming punts as one of the NFL's elite punters since then.

Following his decent, but unspectacular first year as a Bill, Moorman quickly established himself as one of the league's best the following year.  He would finish fourth in the NFL in punting in 2002 with a 43.1 yards per punt average and drilled a league best (and career long) 84-yarder in a late December loss in frigid Green Bay.  He continued to improve over the next three season, culminating with his first Pro Bowl berth in 2005, a year he led the NFL in punting at 45.7 yards per punt.  Moorman has also routinely flirted with a 40 yard net average, long a number rarely met by NFL punters.  Moorman again made the Pro Bowl in 2006, despite finishing No. 16 in yards per punt.  He was selected due to finishing second in the NFL in net yards per punt and punts inside the 20.  Moorman has only finished in the top five in average per punt a few times, but he routinely finishes there for net yards per punt, which is a tribute to his ability to place the ball all over the field, as well as give his consistently good coverage teams the chance to get downfield to limit big returns. He has also held on field goals and extra points for the majority of his career.

Moorman has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week four times in his career (Week 6 in 2004, Week 10 in 2005, and Weeks 9 and 15 in 2006.  He was also named AFC Special Team Player of the Month for November of 2006. I'd have to imagine a punter earning these honors is pretty rare, and a testament to how good Moorman has been during his career.

Along with all the success Moorman has had on the field, his impact off the field is probably greater.  He was given the 2005 Pro Football Weekly Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian of the Year Award, and has been honored as the Bills Walter Payton Man of the Year twice, in 2003 and 2008, for his work off the field and his play on it.  Moorman and his wife, Amber, created the PUNT Foundation in 2004 to help make a difference in the lives of Western New York children facing life threatening illnesses. The Foundation provides assistance to these children and their families, family-centered programs and events designed to enrich their lives, and provides them with unique and unforgettable opportunities.  The Foundation raises money for a number of programs to enrich the lives of these sick kids, which you can read more about here. It's hard not to root for a guy like this:

"It is really an honor to be recognized but my wife and I don’t do these things to be recognized," said a humble Moorman. "We do this for the families and the kids. Just to meet kids and help them take their mind off things."

Best Moment(s)
As a punter, it's kind of difficult to really consider any plays that much better than others.  But Moorman has provided Bills fans with some memories even though he's just a simple punter.  He's been involved in a handful of fake punts that have resulted in first downs for the team.  In back-to-back weeks early in the 2004 season, Moorman completed a 24-yard pass to CB Kevin Thomas in Oakland and then followed it up with a 34-yard rush the next week against the Patriots.  His most memorable fake came in the 2008 season opener against Seattle when he executed a perfect fake field goal.  He hit DE Ryan Denney for a 19-yard touchdown late in the third quarter to put the Seahawks away.  And I'd be remiss not to mention the time Moorman got absolutely run over by the late Sean Taylor in the Pro Bowl.  The fact that he got up and showed no fear or pain was proof of Moorman's toughness and grit.  Wow, what a hit.

Parting Shot
I know, I know.  Brian Moorman is just a punter and probably shouldn't be ranked this high on a list of the team's best players ever, but you know what?  Moorman has been as good at his job as maybe any player in team history.  He's been such a precise special teams weapon for us, and the main reason the Bills punt coverage team is so good every year.  For years, Bills fans could argue Moorman was the team's best player, and it wasn't farfetched in any way.  Moorman has been, and will continue to be, a fan favorite and we should all hope he's able to continue putning at a high level for another 6-8 years in Buffalo, maybe longer!

Career Stats
128 games (never missed a game)
610 punts (No. 2 in franchise history)
26,332 punting yards (No. 2)
43.2 yards per punt (No. 1)
37.3 net yards per punt (No. 1)
Long punt of 84 yards (No. 1)

Brian Moorman is the best punter in franchise history.
(photo source)