Updated, 2:35 p.m. ET
Brandon Moore was always the model of calm and purposefulness in the New York Jets locker room, but the former Pro Bowl guard looked even more serene than usual as he strolled the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center today.
"You don't realize how wound up this profession makes you," said Moore, who was just introduced to reporters here by Rex Ryan as a newly retired O-lineman. "You're worried about performing so well, consistently, with all the preparation and time that goes into it, what that does to your mental, your physical, your emotional.
"I feel like a chapter has closed," he told me. "I don't like saying 'retiring.' I like saying I just don't play football anymore. But I'm just excited about whatever the next step is. Heck, I didn't know putting my hand in the dirt as a 13-year-old would bring me right here."
Moore spent his entire 10-year pro playing career as our fixture at right guard, playing in two AFC Championship Games in 2009 and '10 and in his only Pro Bowl after the '11 season, before leaving after last season. At the end of last season he had 137 consecutive regular-season games, which at the time was the longest streak among active NFL guards.
He got the heroes' tour today. He spent time with my partner, Eric Allen, on Jets TV, with our social networking department, with director of player development Dave Szott — a former Pro Bowl guard himself — at lunch, and with Rex during today's final practice before we take on New Orleans on Sunday.
And Brandon Moore's weekend will continue before the Saints game as he serves as the Jets' "pilot," leading the team along Jets Runway into MetLife Stadium prior to warmups and serving as our honorary captain at the opening coin toss.
"In my opinion, Brandon will go down as the best guard in the history of the Jets," Ryan said at the top of today's news conference, "and if not, he'd certainly be in that conversation.
"What he is, he was the ultimate competitor, tough, durable, just a great player. We could just point and say, 'We're going right here, behind Brandon Moore and Damien Woody.' That's what I remember about Brandon. He was obviously a special guy."
And Woody, Moore's right-side ground-and-pound partner, tweeted this afternoon:
Congrats to my man Brandon Moore on his retirement. Great player but even better person. His professionalism was second to none
Moore has a lot of thanks to spread around for his successful career, among them his wife, Regina, "who's really been there, we've grown together, and I couldn't have done it without her," and his parents, Julius and Brenda, who "supported me since day one, putting on the shoulder pads back in Gary, Ind."
"I look at it now and I had the time of my life as a Jet. I'm proud to be a Jet. I enjoyed my time here," he said. "Today I am a bigger Jets fan than I was when I ran out on Sundays in full uniform."
Many of us Jets fans are also Brandon Moore fans, knowing that No. 65 who always gave his best in green and white. And if Moore, in his small role this weekend, can provide the necessary lift for us to get a much-needed win and march the Saints out of MetLife Stadium on Sunday, all the better. Have a great second phase of your career, Brandon.