Friday, September 3, 2010

MOELLER'S RETURN THURSDAY WAS INSPIRING, EVEN TO THIS WRITER

Photo of Tyler Moeller by The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Sometimes it's difficult to separate being a reporter from being a fan of the game, but I must admit that on Thursday night when I watched Ohio State senior star/safety/kamikaze make play after play against visiting Marshall, it made me a little teary eyed.

This young man has come such a long, long way since July of 2009. That was when he was assaulted in a Florida pub while on vacation with his family. The attacker sucker punched Moeller — for no apparent reason — which sent the Buckeye star falling hard to the ground and causing him to hit his head on the bar floor below.

Moeller suffered a major head injury from the attack, and it appeared that his football career was definitely in the rearview.

Well ... let's fast forward to Thursday night at Ohio Stadium, where this time Moeller was the one offering up an assault — and the victim was Marshall's offense.

He led the Buckeyes in tackles (seven), sacks (one) and tackles for loss (two), while also forcing a fumble during Ohio State's 45-7 victory. Moeller was all over the field doing what he does best. He was relentless, he was attacking, he was everything that the scouting report said about him.

It was difficult to believe by Moeller's performance on Thursday night that he hadn't played in a real game since the 2008 season.

"It was everything I hoped it would be," Moeller said following the win. "It felt great to be able to get out there and play a real game again."

It felt even greater watching him.

During the third quarter, Moeller put the stamp on his return when he blasted Marshall quarterback Brian Anderson on a blitz, forcing the Herd passer to fumble the football. The play sent chills through my body. It was truly a magical experience.

Moeller said through all of his comeback efforts, and all of the unknown, the love of hitting never went away.

"That's one thing I'll never lose confidence in," Moeller said. "It's the best feeling in the world."

I recall a chat this past summer with Amy Moeller — Tyler's mother — where she said, "God help me come August and September. Just know that if you see me and I'm a mess, it's a happy mess."

I informed her that there was no crying in football.

Well, I guess I broke the rules on Thursday night.

But just like Tyler's improbable comeback attempt, there's always an exception to the rule.