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Moeller deserves better fate

There are a lot of things that make you wonder in life. Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why do the Kardashians have their own television show?

But the “whyism” I often ask to no one in particular is why so often bad things happen to good people.

Like Tyler Moeller.

I saw Moeller play in high school a few times. He played for Colerain, a Cincinnati public school powerhouse that is routinely one of the top 25 high school programs in the country.

After helping lead the Cardinals to the 2004 Division I state title in his junior season, Moeller was named 2005 Ohio Division I Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. In his senior season for Colerain, Moeller recorded an impressive 123 tackles, 15.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss on a defense stacked with Division I recruits.

Moeller seemingly always knew where the play was going before the snap. More often than not he was the first defender to reach the ball-carrier.

If you didn’t see Moeller make the tackle, you could hear the sound of his shoulder pads laying into the offensive player’s chest.

After redshirting and paying his dues on the special teams for his first three seasons in Columbus, Moeller was set to start at the star position (a hybrid linebacker/defensive back position) going into the 2009 season.

However, his life was turned upside-down on July 26, 2009.

Long story short: Moeller was with his family in Florida when Ralph Gray Decker knocked him unconscious, eventually causing Moeller to experience stroke-like symptoms and bleeding in his brain.

Doctors drilled dime-sized holes into his skull to allay the pressure and inserted a titanium plate. They told him to steer clear of physical activity.

After making a full recovery, Moeller trained hard in the offseason and was back in the swing of things this past spring, eager to prove himself to everyone.

“It’s hard to put into words,” he told ESPN.com last April. “I just want to forget everything that happened in the past and play next year and show people what I can do — show people what I could have done a year ago. Just get everything behind me.”

Moeller’s teammates love him. His hustle and passion for the game are contagious. Even the stoic Jim Tressel can’t get enough of Moeller.

“Every time I see [Moeller] out there, you know, I smile,” Tressel said in September.

As a starter at the “star position” this season, Moeller was arguably OSU’s best defender in the first four games of the season, with 20 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss, one sack, two forced fumbles and an interception to his credit. He was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after the season opener against Marshall.

Last Saturday against Illinois, Moeller’s incomprehensible bad luck took a turn for the worse again. He suffered a torn pectoral muscle on OSU’s first defensive possession, an injury that will end his 2010 season.

“You just feel sick for him because you saw the pain he was in last year not being able to help his teammates and now he was having fun,” Tressel said. “It’s very disappointing.”

OSU’s Energizer Bunny might not see another snap in his college career.


Before the season, Moeller, a fifth-year senior, was planning on applying for a sixth year of eligibility to the NCAA. Tressel said OSU will indeed apply for Moeller to gain another year.

Here’s to hoping the NCAA smiles upon Moeller’s hardship and grants him one last hurrah as a Buckeye. If anyone deserves a third chance to spite Lady Luck, it’s the man who’s already experienced a life’s worth of trauma.

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