Sunday slant: Celebratory release for Captain

Captain Munnerlyn received some welcome family news in between minicamp and training camp: the release of his brother from prison almost 20 years after committing murder.

The last year held some professional disappointment for Captain Munnerlyn. The last couple months provided a personal high.

Munnerlyn, the Minnesota Vikings’ cornerback who admitted disappointment with his play in his first season with the team last year, returned home to Mobile, Ala. after minicamp in June and was welcomed with incredible news: His older brother, Timothy Moore, incarcerated for murder since Captain was in grade school, made parole after nearly 20 years in prison and is working his way through a transition house.

“He’s in a transition home right now, getting used to society again,” Munnerlyn said. “When you go away for 19 years, when you get out here it’s a whole lot different. The Internet is jumping more, people have cell phones now, and social media is on. It’s a little different, so they’ve got him in a transition period right now and he’ll be home soon.”

Munnerlyn couldn’t be happier. In fact, the day that ended one person’s life almost 20 years ago and ended Moore’s freedom for 20 years had either a bit of fortune or at least one smart move on Moore’s part. Moore dropped his little brother off at home before killing the person that had shot and robbed him earlier. That move kept Munnerlyn from personally witnessing the murder. That night not only changed life for Moore, it actually helped the Munnerlyn family in some ways.

How is that possible?

“My dad died when I was a very young boy (he was shot in a nightclub). I looked up to my big brother as a father figure. It was a big hit, but at the same time it was a blessing in disguise,” Munnerlyn steadfastly maintains. “It changed the whole family. Mom got saved. (Another) brother got saved. My brother’s a preacher, my mom’s a preacher. It changed the whole family. Like I said, it was a tragic situation, but at the same time it helped us get to the point we are now.”

Where they are now is a far different place than 20 years ago. His mother decided major changes had to be instituted for what was left of her family. Moore, now 38 years old, is out of prison and working his way back into society.

“He missed his whole life, but he’s got a long life to live – I tell him that. He’s got a long life to live. He might miss a lot, but at the same time it was a blessing to the family,” Munnerlyn said.

“He wants to be a business owner. He’s always been business-minded since I’ve talked to him when I was growing up. When he was out, my mom said he always had a business mind. He wants to try to open his own business.”

Business wasn’t Moore’s primary focus during his formative years. Not surprisingly, given Munnerlyn’s background, sports was a big emphasis for the older brother, too.

In fact, people who were paying attention more than a third-grade Munnerlyn tell him Moore was a better athlete than the kid that turned into an NFL player.

“They say he was better than me. My mom said he’d have coaches call and beg to get him back on the field – ‘Can he please play, Mrs. Munnerlyn? Can he please play?’” Munnerlyn recalled. “I’m like, he still wasn’t better than me, but they think he was better than me, that it was just trouble that stopped him. But they say he was a very good athlete. In baseball, he was a switch hitter and he was a pitcher, left-handed. In football, they say he was a receiver and had the best hands they ever seen. That’s what they say, but I don’t believe it because I didn’t see him.”

The highly competitive cornerback isn’t having any of it. Even now, he’s not going to just hand that label to his older brother. Sometime soon, when Moore is done with his transition back into society, perhaps they can settle that score.

Until then, Munnerlyn is claiming the title of best athlete among his immediate family.

“He claims he can outlift me, he can outrun me, he can do everything better than me. I told him, we’ll see in a couple months when he gets out,” said Munnerlyn, who is 11 years younger than Moore. “He’s in the best shape of his life because all he’d do is work out in there and he’d eat the right things. He looks good. The last time I was home at my youth football camp, I went to see him and he looked very good. He looked very healthy and he was ready to get out.”

When Moore was robbed in the incident that led his life-changing and life-ending decision, he was shot in the knee. But all these years later, that’s not an issue, the younger brother said.

While it’s unclear what line of work Moore will get into, Munnerlyn’s inkling is that he will get there on his own. If some assistance is needed, Munnerlyn is there, knowing he used to be the shadow in Moore’s wing.

“I stayed on his hip. I used to treat him like he was my dad. He was that big brother figure to me, made sure if I needed anything he’d take care of me,” Munnerlyn said. “When it came to clothes, shoes and anything, my big brother, he was there. I remember those times that I had with him. It was a big age difference, but he was there for me.”

There is no doubt Moore made a tragic, stupid and devastating decision 19 years ago in seeking revenge. It forever changed the lives of two families.

Yet, in the eyes of the law, he has paid his penance. He is working his way back and this fall might be able to see Munnerlyn’s abilities in person for the first time since the younger brother was in grade school.

The two had a “special” visit in July when Munnerlyn returned to Mobile for his youth football camp.

“We went and talked forever. Now he’s gone to transition housing,” Munnerlyn said. “I talked to him a couple days ago and he was like, ‘Man, it’s like I’m in a training camp at a college and we get to do whatever we want to do, we just have curfew.’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s training camp.’ You get to sit in meetings, in classrooms, and sit and learn stuff all day. You get a time where you can off campus to eat and stuff like that. I said, ‘Yeah, that’s just like training camp.’”

And about the time Munnerlyn’s regular season begins, Moore’s regular life will begin.

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