RENTON, Wash. – It was more than a bye week for Denver Broncos guard John Moffitt. More like a bye-bye week.
Less than three months ago, Moffitt stunned the 7-1 Broncos by returning home to the Seattle area during his week off and deciding to walk away from his NFL career. The Seahawks had traded him to Denver in August, after he had played his first two seasons with Seattle.
Now, the Broncos and Seahawks are playing in Super Bowl XLVIII, and Moffitt, a third-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2011, said he has no regrets about giving up on what millions of people would consider a dream job.
“I was just sick of playing football,” said Moffitt, 27, sitting in a modest home he rents about a mile south of Seahawks headquarters. “I felt I’d played a lot and had gotten to the point where it wasn’t necessarily paying off, and it wasn’t something I was enjoying anymore. I was really unhappy with the whole lifestyle.”
If Moffitt feels a pang these days, it’s not one of regret. It’s in his surgically reconstructed right knee, which tends to throb on cold days. He could have played on it, but the joint is a reminder of the toll the game takes on the body.
“It’s like being an old man as a 27-year-old,” he said. “I don’t think compared to a lot of other guys I’m that badly banged up. But I definitely took a beating.”
Moffitt started nine games at right guard as a rookie before suffering a season-ending knee injury. By the time he was healthy enough to return for the start of the 2012 season, he had been demoted to part-time starter along with two others.
He asked to be traded, and the Seahawks obliged. They tried to trade him to Cleveland, but Moffitt said the Browns tried to lowball him on his contract, then called off the trade for medical reasons when he wouldn’t agree.
Seattle then shipped him to Denver, where he backed up at both guard spots and center. Although he had played in only two of the Broncos’ first eight games, he was a key insurance policy as a reserve.
“It was a shocker coming out of the bye week,” said John Elway, Denver’s top football executive. “I said, ‘Where’s Moffitt?’ And I get ahold of him and he goes, ‘I’m not coming back.’ Put us in a little bit of a jam, depth-wise.
“But I didn’t want a guy who didn’t want to play football, either. He sounded like he’d made up his mind.”
The potential for more injuries isn’t the only reason why Moffitt quit. He soured on the NFL ethos — “taught thought” he calls it — which he sees as a big corporate money grab that uses players as pawns. It bothers him that society puts professional athletes on pedestals.
“It freaks me out sometimes when you have grown men that you look up to act completely different around you now because you’re in the NFL,” he said. “That should not happen. …
“I don’t think anybody should be treated differently for doing something so arbitrary as playing football. Show me the guy who cured cancer, and let’s raise him up and be like, ‘Do this stuff!’ Have kids aspire to do that.”
Invited by a friend, Moffitt attended last week’s NFC Championship Game. He said he enjoyed watching it but felt no urge to resume his career.
“The way I look at it is, I did that dream,” he said. “I did the NFL. I’m bored of it. I didn’t like the way it was going for me. I didn’t like it for health reasons. I’m going to create a new dream.”