Damontre Moore hopes Cowboys are the final chapter to his comeback story
FRISCO, Texas -- Damontre Moore’s dream was not unlike that of a lot of kids who grew up in the Dallas area.
He wanted to play for the Dallas Cowboys one day. As he worked a concession stand at Texas Stadium with his youth football team from South Oak Cliff, he let his mind wander to what that would be like. He sat in the stands for a couple of games too.
"We played there one time, too," Moore said. "Raiders against the Cowboys, and we all imagined one day we would play for the Cowboys. So it finally happened."
Moore signed a modest two-year deal with the Cowboys last week that included a $100,000 signing bonus. This was not the way he anticipated his homecoming.
He was a third-round pick by the New York Giants in 2013 but he was released in his third season following an incident with a teammate over headphones. He ended the 2015 season with the Miami Dolphins. He signed with the Oakland Raiders last spring but was an early cut in training camp.
He had a summer workout with the Cowboys, who were starving for defensive line help because of injuries, but the team passed. He was out of football until November, when he signed with the Seattle Seahawks. He had a half-sack in four games, earned praise from Pete Carroll, hurt his foot and had an arrest for driving while under the influence.
The Cowboys are his fifth team in five years. He has 10 career sacks. He is yet to start a game in his career.
"I look at it as my last chance," Moore said. "Nothing's promised in the game we play. You can be there today and see you later tomorrow. You've got to take every snap, every rep, every practice like this is your last opportunity to prove yourself."
The Cowboys gave Moore the chance because they need pass-rush help, just as they did last summer. They took the chance because he does not turn 25 until September. They took the chance because it does not cost them much.
He grew up watching DeMarcus Ware get after the quarterback for nine seasons with the Cowboys. Moore was a middle linebacker in youth football before he moved to defensive end. He starred at Rowlett (Texas) High School.
The Cowboys can't expect Moore to be what Ware was. But they hope he can be another in a list of unheralded defensive linemen to find success, like George Selvie, Jeremy Mincey, David Irving, and Benson Mayowa.
His workout last summer with the team gave him a brief introduction to Rod Marinelli's ways.
"You see how intense he was," Moore said. "He was saying, 'Run here, run there.' It always starts with yourself but it helps when your coach has all the energy and a lot of experience. He's coached great players and he's turned a lot of people around. You just trust that process."
Moore will be at The Star Tuesday for the unofficial captains' practices run by teammates. He has been working out in San Francisco with Frank Matrisciano, better known as Hell's Trainer. He has transformed his 6-foot-5, 252-pound body, adding upper-body strength that he did not have at Texas A&M or in his first few years in the NFL.
"I've definitely noticed a big difference in my strength as far as holding myself up a little longer and having body control," Moore said. "I feel a lot more powerful and explosive and I've been able to lose the bad weight I had and gain it all back and turn it into muscle mass."
Moore shares an agent with Von Miller, who has become a mentor of sorts since their time together at Texas A&M. They have worked out the last few years with Matrisciano. Miller's renaissance as the NFL's best pass-rusher after a suspension and knee injury in 2013 has given Moore a map to success.
"His career says it all," Moore said. "That's my brother. For him, he's constantly encouraging and telling me the stuff I want to hear and telling me stuff I don't want to hear. It hasn't been like I wanted to, but he knows at the end of the day you can still bounce back. His career shows it. Everybody loves a comeback story."
Even before the signing became official, Moore's cell phone kept buzzing.
"I think I heard from everybody and their mama," Moore said. "You got everybody coming out of woodwork congratulating you. It wasn't just about congratulations about me signing. It was everybody saying, ‘We see how hard you're working and we're psyched you get to come back and have this opportunity.' That's the best thing."