Off the depth chart

John Moffit

LATELY IT SEEMS everything in John Moffitt's life has acquired a veneer of existential drama. There is nothing easy, nothing unexamined, nothing remotely as basic as putting his hand in the dirt and driving his head and body into another human being. Case in point: the simple question of whether to have a beer while watching his former team, the Broncos, play the Chiefs on Sunday night of Week 11.

The setting is important for context. Moffitt sits in the upstairs TV room of his rented house in the Seattle suburb of Renton, a sliver of Lake Washington visible through the front window. Two cameramen and a photographer crowd the room, ready to watch him watch the game. He can tell the action is about to begin because the muted television keeps alternating between Peyton Manning's stoic face and a line of soldiers on hand to celebrate the NFL's ongoing merger with the United States military. On a counter downstairs, a medium-size farm's worth of grilled meat covers the kitchen island, a case of beer tantalizingly close.

Moffitt is an oversize Jack Black, 312 pounds of childlike ebullience, easy distractibility and, at this moment, indecision. The room is silent as he grapples with the beer-or-no-beer decision. He plays with his long, dark hair, which will spend the evening in and out of a tight bun. With an air of finality, he tells his manager, Wael Abou-Zaki, "I'm not going to have a beer. I really can't."

There is no response. Moffitt looks around the room and says, as if answering a question nobody asked, "Okay, I'll have one." He prods Abou-Zaki, "Are you going to have one, L? I just don't want to be the only one drinking, you know? There are cameras here, and if it's just me sitting on the couch drinking beer ... You know what I'm saying?"

To illustrate, Moffitt throws his enormous and relatively formless body into the back corner of the brown sectional and adopts a voice filled with mock concern, like a bad impression of a news anchor reporting a tragedy. "Yeah, John looks good," he says. "John looks like he's doing well. Great. Great. Really good to see."

Two weeks removed from walking away from a lucrative career as a third-year guard with the Broncos, he reports that sitting in front of the television (without a beer, ultimately) "feels super normal. There is no part of me that wants to go out there and do that." He would not be watching this game if it weren't for the cameras on hand to watch him watch it. In fact, nobody here could watch this game at all if Moffitt hadn't discovered that morning that his cable had been turned off. His mother ("My accountant," he says) forgot to make a payment. "I turned it on. No channels," he says. "Oh, that's just perfect." He spent a good part of his day on the phone in a panic to reach a human who could reconnect him by kickoff.

"I should've left it off," he says. "Made it part of the story, you know? I'm done with the NFL and don't have money for cable. I'm a minimalist. We only read books in this house now."

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