Dave Moore may not be the most important Buccaneer on Tampa Bay's roster. But he's certainly well-known and well-liked.
That's not hard to understand. Moore has played 15 years in the NFL. He's started more games as a tight end than all but two players in league history. His business interests and charitable endeavors in Tampa Bay keep him entrenched in the public eye.
Buccaneers fans came out in droves Tuesday in Punta Gorda, about an hour and a half south of Tampa, for a charity event. But was most Bucs fans wanted to know was whether he would play a 16th season in 2007.
Moore said he isn't sure, but he does have his choices narrowed down to two — playing for the Bucs or retirement.
"I've talked to a couple of other teams and some past coaches (of mine) that want me to up and move," Moore said. "I think right now if I do come back it will be here (Tampa Bay). I was lucky to come back and play here after I went to Buffalo, so I have connections to the community and the fans. There's no sense at this point in leaving."
Moore also has a daughter in the sixth grade and he doesn't want to uproot her.
Moore is in no hurry to make a decision. Plenty of unrestricted free agents are signed in the summer, even right before training camp. The Bucs have the luxury of knowing what Moore can do. Moore has the luxury of knowing that there's no one on the Bucs' roster more experienced at long snapping than him.
If Tampa Bay re-signed Moore, it would be for that purpose, a job he's performed ably since he returned to Tampa Bay before the 2004 season. Long-snapping is his greatest value to the Bucs at this point. He's caught just five passes in the last three seasons, and the Bucs are now jammed at tight end with Alex Smith, Anthony Becht and Jerramy Stevens.
Long-snapping would have some appeal to Moore. He's 37 and admits the grind of the game wears on him much more than a decade ago.
"Last year I had a fractured rib and a punctured lung," Moore said. "It's kind of moved from external to internal injuries. Your recovery time isn't like it was. But I still enjoy playing and being around the guys. But at some point I have to decide whether I should walk away a year or two early or limp away a year or two late. It's a fine line."
The locker room camaraderie and the thrill of Sunday afternoon probably keeps many a player on the field one year too long. Moore is still in shape, though. He works out at a St. Petersburg club (he said he typically keeps a safe distance from One Buc Place in the offseason, except for mandatory club workouts and voluntary organized team activities). He spends time with his buddy, fullback Mike Alstott, with whom he co-owns a Clearwater restaurant. In fact, Alstott is how Moore gets a lot of his information.
He hasn't met any of the players Tampa Bay selected in April during the draft, but he did keep a close eye on who the Bucs took.
"Their draft was good," Moore said. "They got some need players. Sometimes you kind of get in a situation where you take the best available player, but we needed defensive players. It wasn't as high profile a draft as we've had the past couple of years."
"I heard a lot of good things about him (Johnson)," Moore said. "I would have liked to see them (the Bucs) take him, too."
Moore also had solid marks for the Bucs' two top free-agent acquisitions, quarterback Jeff Garcia and defensive end Kevin Carter, who he played against when he was in Buffalo. >p> "Kevin Carter I played against for a long time," Moore said. "He's a good, solid defensive end. He's someone they can really use, even though he's getting up there. He's got 12 years. Garcia is a good fit for this style of offense.
"I think it's exactly what they (Tampa Bay) need. I think Chris (Simms) is a good QB. Garcia is a good, experienced guy. They can complement each other pretty well. I don't know who has the upper hand, though."
Moore's future is still up in the air, and it may not be settled until right before training camp. If he retires, he hasn't ruled out doing something in the media, maybe reviving the radio show he had before he left for Tampa. But he has made one decision about what he WON'T be doing.
"Coaching does not interest me," Moore said. "Those guys work way too hard. From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Crazy hours."