Wednesday, January 26, 2011

#DontCrossTheMoats or The Curious Case Of Arthur Moats

This is the story of Arthur Moats. The man with the most famous Twitter hashtag in the history of Buffalo, New York : #DontCrossTheMoats.
If you are a Buffalo Bills fan you automatically recognize the hashtag that ended Brett Favre's season (more on that later). But this is really an incredible phenomena if you consider that on opening day of the 2010 NFL season nobody knew who Arthur Moats was (even in Buffalo). Yes, this is rags to hashtag riches story. So sit back and enjoy!

Once upon a time there was a 6th round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills (pick 178 to be specific) by the name of Arthur Moats. Mr. Moats was the 2009 Buck Buchanan Award winner, given to the best defensive player in the Football Championship Division (formerly known as Division II). He starred at James Madison University (Colonial Athletic Association) where, in 2009, he was team captain, CAA Defensive Player Of The Year, James Madison University Athlete Of the Year, and a first team all-conference selection. He also led the team with 90 tackles (42 solo) while setting a school record of 23.5 tackles for a loss (leading the nation), had 11 sacks (first in the CAA and third in the nation). Yes Arthur was busy destroying the CAA in 2009; however, scouts said he was too small (6-2, 250 lbs) and played against weak competition to be considered a legitimate NFL defensive end.

Well, as the story goes, the Bills have a terrible history with high draft picks, but often strike gold with low round picks or undrafted free agents. This being said, Arthur didn't really distinguish himself in training camp and squeaked onto the roster as a special teams player. The buzz about Sir Arthur didn't start till a Buffalo sports radio personality (Jeremy White at WGR) coined the phrase of "Don't Cross The Moats". It was meant to be funny, since Moats was an unknown who had yet to distinguish himself. But then a funny thing happened - the phrase caught on.

First there was Arthur's dynamic special teams play. With each hit Bills fans would echo the infamous phrase, and on WGR radio each Moats tackle would be re-lived with the tag of "Don't Cross The Moats". Then there were the "Moats Sightings" as Arthur began to see more reps as the season progressed. And then, finally, the epic Twitter hashtag was born. During Bills games, any time Mr. Moats made a play, or came close to making one, Twitter was deluged with #DontCrossTheMoats references.

The Moats frenzy reached its peak (or so Bills fans thought) when any player dared even test Sir Arthur. If you "Crossed The Moats" bad things were destined for you. Twitter was filled with examples of football, and non-football actions that qualified as attempts to "Cross The Moats". Inevitably, any attempt to "Cross The Moats" ended in failure and made Arthur Moats one of the most popular Bills, even with his limited playing time.
As Arthur's game improved he began to play more regularly on defense, primarily on passing downs. The #DontCrossTheMoats legend was born when Arthur sacked Brett Favre and knocked Brett out of his first game of the year, and ended his streak of games started (but not necessarily Brett's streak of emailing pix of his privates).

The final few games of the year saw Moats playing regularly. He was possibly the best pash rusher on the Bills (I know, it ain't much, but its a start). He regularly pressured the QB, made some nice tackles, and showed some promise as a legitimate NFL player. He finished the season with 33 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.

So, the morale of this tale? What started out as a cute play on words, and morphed into a national story (yes, #DontCrossTheMoats was referenced on game broadcasts, news stories, and sport talk shows), had a happy ending. A football player was discovered and a fan favorite was born. Hopefully Arthur lives happily ever after...

Sir Arthur hopes to bulk up this off season and continue his unlikely rise in the NFL. The coaching staff thinks he has what it takes. He certainly has the needed hashtag!

Just remember, if you, or your favorite NFL team, wants to keep its good karma.........#DontCrossTheMoats!

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