When the only way to reach a popular vacation destination is via 12 hours of plane rides, many people might choose a getaway a little quicker to home. But Brandon Moore finally got his first taste of the islands this spring.
"Hawaii just seemed like a far-off place. I heard it was nice and of all the vacations I've been to — I've been to the Caribbean and Mexico — it was probably one of the best ones," he said. "The people are nice and the experience was really good."
It wasn't a typical vacation, though. Moore traveled with his wife, Regina, and their 8-month old daughter, Mikayla, to Hawaii for the annual NFL Players Association's meetings.
"There was a lot of business going on. It was good for me as a rookie, seeing all the things the union is a part of and the voice they give the players," Moore told newyorkjets.com recently following a workout. "It was a fun experience and a learning experience, just understanding and seeing how the process works."
Last fall the Jets had a player rep vacancy. Moore, 27, a veteran right guard now entering his sixth pro season, decided he wanted to get involved in the union and was nominated by his teammates.
"It's a real union. You have votes, rules and certain guys are nominated," he said. "You turn in ballots and it's a legit process."
In addition to the PA electing former Jet Kevin Mawae president, FB Tony Richardson was reelected to his post on the executive committee. Moore played alongside Mawae for a few seasons and Richardson will soon line up behind him in the Jets' offensive backfield.
"First and foremost it was about the history of the PA, to know where you're going and what you need to do. And you also learn the beliefs the PA has," he said of the four-day meeting. "That was a big part of it, knowing how it all started in the Fifties all the way up to now and the CBA and the history and understanding what a lockout means to the players and the owners."
It is expected that the owners will opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement by November. Then after two years of football with a salary cap, the 2010 season could be played without a ceiling. Owners could then opt to lock out players in 2011 and it could lead to a lost season.
When the meetings broke, Moore had time to relax with his family and explore the great outdoors.
"The first couple of days, we got by the pool and laid out a little bit. When we finally had a free day, we went whale watching because it's a big migration area for the whales," he said. "Sometimes people say you can see them from the beach. We actually went out on the boat and you could see them coming up for air and the males courting the females. It was really fun to get up that close in the wild."
The Jets did some courting themselves this off-season as they've been busy since the commencement of the trading/free agency period. Moore expected changes after a disappointing 4-12 campaign.
"The season wasn't as good as you'd like it to be and you know there's going to have to be some upgrades at positions," he said. "You never know what they're doing. I'm sure it was a big shock to a lot of people — it was a needed shock. They make those decisions and work all night to make those decisions. I'm just excited that they made them."
The additions of LG Alan Faneca and veteran OL Damien Woody means the Jets will have at least two new starters on their line.
"I didn't know them much other than just watching film," said Moore of his new teammates. "We watched a couple of games with Pittsburgh because of common opponents and I've always paid attention to Faneca. He is a perennial Pro Bowler and is a guy you look at to not emulate but maybe take a couple of things here or there.
"I've seen Woody a couple of times on film, just watching the Lions. He is great at guard. I haven't seen him much at tackle, but I'm sure he can do that job just as well."
A starter in each of the Jets' last 48 regular-season games, Moore is not worried about how the new unit will mesh.
"I think that would be difficult if they were rookies," he said. "I think everything's going to fall in line pretty quickly. You've got a guy in Faneca who's played 10 years and a guy in Woody who's played nine years — veterans can fall in line and pick up the pace really quick. I'm excited about them and I'm excited about the new transition. I don't think there's any worry that they're going to pick up things quickly."
And that goes for Moore's daughter as well. Mikayla, fresh off her first trip to Hawaii, is picking things up fast and Dad's enjoying every minute with his little girl.
"It's changed everything. Even now, she's getting a little bit more personality. She's getting a little bit more adventurous, trying to explore everything and wanting to touch everything," he said. "She's not crawling yet — she's doing a little bit of an army crawl across the floor. It's a blessing, it's a joy every day to see her and her transformation growing and developing."