Foster Moreau has caught 91 passes in his four seasons in the NFL.
None of those previous 91 receptions could have possibly been more meaningful to him than the one he made Tuesday in Metairie on the New Orleans Saints practice field.
This one, witnessed only by his teammates, coaches and a few dozen media members, won’t count toward his career stats.
But it had to be special, considering it happened just two months after Moreau got the news that had many wondering if the 26-year-old New Orleans native would ever catch a football again.
It was on March 22 when the tight end, a free agent at the time, announced on Twitter that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer.
John Amoss, the Saints’ team doctor sat with Moreau that day and they discussed the different symptoms, particularly the enlarged lymph node in his left clavicle.
"It was the biggest knife in my heart I could have ever gotten," Moreau said about the news that day. "… I went home, cried. It was a really tough moment. There was so much stress that it kinda built up through the entire free agency process and all of that melted away into a huge completely different mountain that now had to be climbed."
Moreau has climbed that mountain, just like everyone who knew him from his days at Jesuit High School or LSU or his four seasons with the Raiders expected. It’s how fast he managed to climb it that may have caught some by surprise.
Moreau’s diagnosis was Nodular Lymphocyte-Predominant Hodgkin Lymphoma, a rare form of Hodgkins. It’s slow moving and not as aggressive.
Instead of radiation or chemotherapy, His treatment consisted of a drip infusion for 6 to 8 hours about a month and a half ago. The rest of his medications were given through injections in his stomach.
"Treatment wise, it looks like I’m all wrapped up," Moreau said. "The real heroes are the kids in the children’s hospitals that are fighting with real chemotherapy, real radiation. Those are the strong ones."
He signed a 3-year, $12 million deal with the Saints the day after he had his final treatment.
He'll have a PET scan in about three weeks to see how things are going.
But in the meantime, he’s back on the field and says he feels fine.
When asked if he had any concerns about being able to make it through an NFL season, he had this to say.
"Not an ounce."
Moreau is back, much to the delight of new Saints quarterback Derek Carr. The two spent the past four seasons together with the Raiders. On Tuesday, they were back on a football field together again on the first day of the team's OTAs.
"I don’t want to undersell what that man just walked through," Carr said. "That’s pretty scary news and a pretty scary thing to go through. So for him to be out there already, is pretty miraculous."
How did Moreau get through the tough times when football all of a sudden wasn’t the most important thing to deal with?
"Prayer," Moreau said. "And strength from family friends."
His cell phone rang constantly as the news spread that day in March.
"I had never been contacted so much a day in my life," Moreau said. "That’s just a credit to good people. More than 70 percent of it was the good people in this city. I was shocked. I was honored. And it just gave me all that much more fight."
It helped make his decision to sign with his hometown team easier.
One of the first calls his agent got when Moreau was diagnosed came from Saints general manager Mickey Loomis. It was to let Moreau know the Saints were still very much interested in him, not just as a football player but as a person.
"That was so comforting for me, knowing that regardless of where I went with this process, there was a chance I’d end up here (with the Saints)," Moreau said. "I don’t take it for granted. … The loyalty and the respect they showed me spoke volumes."
So now he’s back at home, playing in the same city his football journey first began. He’ll play his home games in the Superdome, a stadium he played in during his college days at LSU and his high school days at Jesuit when the Blue Jays won a state championship. Although he always imagined he’d be one of those players who spent his entire career with one franchise, there’s no other place he’d rather be.
"There’s something special about this city," Moreau said. "I’m appreciative to be here."
But even more important, he’s appreciative to once again be playing the game he loves. Two months ago, that wasn’t a sure thing.
"I don’t know if it’s changed me much," Moreau said. "But mentally, I’m a lot more grateful waking up every day."