ST. LOUIS — The bus beckoned, but the receiver with hair resembling the Bible's Samson couldn't step away.
The inter-squad scrimmage at the Edward Jones Dome had ended more than an hour earlier. The receiver, who was once a quarterback and, believe it or not, once sported a buzz cut, was transfixed on the kids waving footballs, rally towels, programs, posters and St. Louis Rams jerseys bearing seemingly every other name and number except his own.
He knew he had to leave. He knew he was the last player signing autographs for fans. He knew a late arrival on the team bus that would take him back to the Rams training facility wouldn't help his already improbable chances of making his hometown team's final roster.
But he remembered being here when he was 9 years old, and he is kept placid.
Kurt Warner. Marshall Faulk. Isaac Bruce. Ernie Conwell. Torry Holt. All those guys from the 2000 Super Bowl team stayed to sign autographs for him at a time he was beginning to fall in love with the game of football.
For a moment, T.J. Moe was a kid again.
"So I remember that," Moe said after a Rams organized team activity in June, his wet hair reaching toward the black and gold Missouri shorts he put on after showering. "I try to spend some time doing that (signing autographs). The hard thing is, as a kid you don’t understand. We have practice the next day. I gotta go home, man. But at the same time, they’re just little kids. They probably don’t have another chance to see ya.
"It’s a neat moment for them. Even if I never made this team, even if I never played football again, they watched me at Missouri, and it’s a cool thing for them."
It's been more than a week since the Rams cut Moe, the former Missouri receiver who played for the Tigers from 2009 to 2012.
He still lives with his parents in suburban St. Louis, which he used to his advantage during training camp this summer.
Moe originally worked out with the Rams after going undrafted in 2013. Moe opted to sign with the New England Patriots after deciding he could do more in their system.
"He's a guy that we had last year and wanted, but we lost him," Rams receivers coach Ray Sherman said.
Before an Achilles tendon injury last summer that forced him to miss what would have been his rookie season, Moe only knew one person on his first NFL team.
"Wherever you're at is going to be fine, but immediately when you're a 22-year-old kid, you're looking for comfort because that's how you play your best," Moe said, who was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots in 2013.
He still gets up at 5.30 a.m. every day to work out, a practice he began when he was in seventh grade, in hopes of making another NFL team. He said teams are still looking at the talent they have. He hopes his agent will get a call after this week's opening slate of games from a team that plays a system in which he'll fit.
He's also doing some talk radio in St. Louis. This week, he has been a guest on "The Edmonds and McKernan Show" on CBS 920. In addition to talk radio, Moe has been offered a position in sales as well as at a financial services firm Northwestern Mutual.
And then there's Smoothie King.
The Louisiana-based blended drinks retailer has long been a favorite of Moe's. He likes to order Angel Food, a strawberry-banana smoothie enhanced with soy protein, after workouts. So Moe, who majored in business administration at MU, is opening three franchises with his dad and two business partners in the St. Louis area.
"We thought about starting one in Columbia, but absentee ownership is the No. 1 reason why Smoothie Kings fail," Moe said.
Which is to say Smoothie King isn't his primary focus at the moment. The desk jobs, talk shows and business ventures will always be there. But football, the wonderful game that Moe played like a freight train in high school (he broke a state record for all-purpose yards in 2008 with 667) and that he used to become a team captain and fan favorite at Missouri, keeps Moe close to his childhood.
He wants and needs to stay a part of this game. Just one more team, one more chance to try defying the odds, staying late after practice and feeling like a kid again.
"I am 100 percent pursuing my football career," Moe said. "All these other things I'm doing are great, but they're also things where, if I get a call from (an NFL team) it's like, 'Hey, I gotta go.'"
Supervising editor is Raymond Howze.