Brandon Moore hasn't been locked in his basement over the last few weeks, hasn't spent the all of the early portion of his offseason tucked away on some tropical island sipping on a fruity beverage.
So the Jets RG hears the talking heads on television mention Thomas Jones. He's privy of the rumors swirling about regarding how Jones could be the next 30-something running back to join the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook on the scrap heap.
Jones, who made $900,000 in base salary in 2009 and rushed for career highs in yardage (1,402) and touchdowns (14), is due a $3 million roster bonus early next month on top of his base salary of $2.8 million. His production declined as the season wore on and he wasn't very effective in the playoffs.
But count Moore among those who hope Jones and the Jets can work things out.
"That goes without saying," Moore told me from Indianapolis. "I really have a lot of admiration, a lot of love for T.J. His passion, his leadership, the example he sets is definitely priceless. Those things are intangibles that you really can’t put a price on if he is lost. But he’s still with us right now. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him on the 22nd of March. And if not, this is a business. But I definitely would love to see him back."
If anyone knows what Jones is going through, it's Moore. The underrated offensive lineman got caught in a bit of a salary purge himself almost exactly a year ago, when he was let go before he was owed a $7 million roster bonus. Moore ended up re-signing a four-year, $16 million deal with $10 million in guarantees with the Jets a day later once the Jets were spurned by Steelers free agent G Chris Kemoeatu.
"That's the other part of it, the business side of it," Moore said. "You have to look at it as a player that if I‘m not here March 22nd or Sept. 1 when you line up for the first game, the game will go on. The Jets will play the season next year and hopefully he’ll be with our team moving on. I think that's the approach he’s got to have. Some people will lose sleep over you leaving. But the game, it’s a business and you just move forward and make the most of the next opportunity.
"I went through it last year and that's what I was prepared to do."
There's also a part of Moore that believes the Jets' top-ranked rushing attack that churned out a single-season franchise-best 2,756 yards on an NFL-high 607 didn't completely fulfill it's complete potential. It's yet another reason he'd prefer to see Jones return to the mix.
"I’d love to see all the pieces back. That would be my ideal situation because I think we left a lot of unfinished business out on the field. But yeah, I see some of the things on 'SportsCenter' and the talk about T.J. and all these other things. And you get a little concerned. But I know in the end it will probably all work out and hopefully it will.
"I don't even know about L.T. or another 30-year-old back, but I know what T.J. brought as a 30 year-old-back. He didn't seem like one to me. He ran off us all year and he won games for us. I think people know that. So to throw him in the category of quote-unquote 30-year-old backs is a little bit of maybe an overstatement. He definitely didn't play that way this year."
Moore was speaking from Indianapolis, which has become the NFL's epicenter over the next week because of the NFL Combine. Future prospects have converged on the city the Jets visited twice in a month span to get evaluated by team executives.
There's also other business being discussed in Indy, such as the NFLPA and the NFL's brain trust meeting to try to get progress going on coming together on a Collective Bargaining Agreement. Moore is the Jets alternate NFLPA representative -- free agent FB Tony Richardson is the Jets' rep -- attended and observed Thursday's session between the two sides, which included commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith.
"We went into the meeting and got some small measures accomplished," Moore said. "But we went into the meeting pretty much where we were before. But that’s part of negotiations and we are comfortable with where this is going. I mean, we’d definitely like to get something hammered out, but if it takes this process to get played out, it is what it is. But we definitely got some things accomplished today."
Last week, Moore found himself in a different environment, one that's far away from the gridiron. For the first time since he can remember, he didn't need to have any surgical procedures done following the season. So he chose to be one of 77 players who enrolled in the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program at Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
The five-day program was a part of the NFL-NFLPA's ongoing attempt to assist players preparing for their career after football. A total of 502 players have participated in the program since it was first introduced in 2005, the very same year Moore initially participated in the program. However, this time he elected to spend time in the workshop at Harvard. In 2005, he was at Wharton.
"As I've solidified myself in the league, I understand that at some point I’m going to need to make some decisions as far as my post-career. So I felt like this was the most opportune time to do it. It was definitely a great experience."
Moore, an avid cook, has visions of opening his own restaurant or possibly even a whole chain. He learned how to evaluate and invest in an opportunity, not to mention negotiating tactics. All things, of course, that he hopes to put to use when it's indeed time to actually hang up the cleats for good.
??"I use the analogy of being on a conveyor belt since you are a little toddler when you started playing football," Moore said. "Once they tell me I can’t play anymore or once I decide I can’t play anymore, they kick you off and you have to find another belt to get on. The whole trying to make the team, the competition, you kind of get lost in that. I think it’s a good thing and an advantage of being a veteran player, to understand that, 'You know what, I need to take advantage of this now."
??"It was pretty much like training camp -- educational style," he added. "But it was definitely busy days."
??These next few days could be busy for GM Mike Tannenbaum. Because they were one of the final eight teams left standing in the postseason, the Jets face restrictions on what free agents they can sign. They might have to get somewhat creative, but they shouldn't have much trouble convincing those who they may target if you ask Moore.
"At this Harvard thing, the DBs and safeties, they were all sitting at the dinner table and they are like, 'Man, you play for the Jets' O-Line. Much respect. I love the way ya'll play.' I’m hearing things I’ve never heard before. They kind of give you a pat on the back and kind of say you are doing a good job -- things they don't usually say to me. It definitely goes a long way, but also motivates you to keep up the tradition that you've kind of built over the span of a year, and take a banner to that, and build a tradition here of being a pretty stout offensive line and win games for us."
Plus, there's also that guy named Mark Sanchez who came on at the end of the season. Moore is champing at the bit to see what the Jets' $50-million quarterback has in store -- provided everything goes right in his rehabilitation from left knee surgery.
"We’re encouraged the way he played," Moore said. "I’m definitely looking forward to him coming back in OTAs or minicamp or whenever he decides to line up under Nick [Mangold] and throw the ball around. I’m really looking forward to him in the huddle again, because I’ve seen the progress from his first day 'til the end of last year.
"To see the progress he's made going forward, I’m really looking forward to it."