Anyone who has played football on any level can tell you stories about the professional football players they grew up idolizing. But most of them can’t tell you that those professional players are their father and uncles.
Senior Jamie Moriarty is one of the few who can.
Moriarty is Cornell’s free safety, a hard hitter who picked off four passes and ranked second on the team with 64 tackles last year. He also has a pro football pedigree anyone would be proud of. His father, Tom, played safety for the Falcons and Steelers as well as in the short-lived USFL, and he also has three uncles who can claim NFL experience. It should thus come as no surprise that the youngest Moriarty has NFL aspirations as well.
“I look up to my dad as someone to admire,” said Moriarty. “Playing in the NFL has always been a dream of mine, so I almost envy him because he’s already done it. This is my last year, so the pressure’s on.”
Only one current NFLer wore the Carnelian and White: Texans defensive lineman Seth Payne ’97. However, Moriarty has already attracted the attention of at least two teams.
“The Arizona Cardinals came and looked at me and took tests and stuff, and I heard that the Ravens had my film, so those teams have looked at me,” he said. “I think it’s good that being a junior, teams are interested, so hopefully this year more teams will be looking at me.”
Moriarty should know what draws the attention of NFL scouts, since he can easily ask a few former pros what got them noticed.
“Basically, [my father’s] advice is to be in the top 10 in the nation in interceptions,” he related. “My goal is 10 interceptions, lead the Ivy League. That’s one thing that will draw NFL scouts, just seeing a player making big plays.”
Ten interceptions in a season is a tall order considering Moriarty’s four last year were nearly half of Cornell’s total number. In fact, to get double-digit picks, you almost have to be Superman — literally. The all-time Division I-AA leader for interceptions in a season is Dean Cain, who nabbed 12 in 1987 for Princeton. Even if he doesn’t post numbers comparable to the Man of Steel’s, Moriarty still could attract the pro scouts.
“Obviously, you’ve got to be a dominant player at your position in the Ivy League in order to get a look at the next level,” said defensive coordinator Jim Pletcher.
Moriarty has already drawn the respect of coaches around the league, earning honorable mention All-Ivy status last season, his first as a pure free safety. The experience of having played safety for a season, coupled with his knowledge of receivers’ moves — he played receiver for the Red in his freshman and sophomore years — should pay dividends for him now.
“Toward the beginning of the year, I was a little hesitant and a little unsure of myself, being my first year starting,” he recalled. “Toward the end of the season, I got more confidence, started making bigger plays, started going for bigger plays, taking chances, taking risks.”
Making those big plays will do more than just catch the scouts’ eyes. They’ll help a Cornell team that had a mediocre pass defense last year shut down opposing quarterbacks. And that will be a big step in bringing the Red back to the upper echelon of the Ivy League.
“My dad played in one championship with the USFL, and I think my uncle has a Super Bowl ring with the Redskins, so I’d like to get one,” Moriarty said. “I was hoping to get a state championship ring in high school; that didn’t work out. Hopefully, [we’ll get an] Ivy League championship ring this year.”
This season, the quest to add to the family ring collection and become the next Moriarty in the NFL continues.
Archived article by Alex Fineman