It's rare that a team cuts its captain just a few days before the biggest game of the season. But that is what the Buffalo Bills did Tuesday by releasing longtime punter Brian Moorman in favor of Shawn Powell.
MoormanTo the average football fan in Seattle or Chicago or Tennessee, this will read like a run-in-the-mill transaction. But this move cuts deep in Buffalo.
There is a reason Bills fans strongly identify with Moorman. He was a good player stuck in the muck of awful Bills football. In many ways, Moorman represented the quality Bills fans who stuck out many years of awful football, waiting for hope.
Moorman took over the Bills' punting job 2001. At that point, the Bills had not made the playoffs in three years. Eleven years and two Pro Bowls later, Buffalo still has not made the playoffs. For most of those 11 seasons, Moorman was the most reliable player the Bills had.
But age catches up to everyone, and Moorman, 36, showed signs of slowing down this year. He barely edged Powell in training camp and got off to a slow start this season. So the Bills turned back to the younger leg, although the timing isn't ideal with the defending AFC champion New England Patriots coming to town.
This is a football decision by the Bills that may work out in the long run. But short term, Bills fans cannot be happy.
Perhaps the biggest shame is Moorman stuck through the bad years and won't get to experience the successes in Buffalo. The Bills (2-1) appear to be in the process of turning things around, and Moorman won't be a part of it.