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  Hall of Fame Less Without Moore
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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Last week, Phins.com had the opportunity to speak with one of the all-time greats in NFL and Dolphin history, Nat Moore (1974-1986). Together with other Dolphin fan sites, we touched on various topics of the past and present.

 

But there is one topic, one burning question, that stands above all the others related to one Nathaniel Moore; his absence from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

 

Not for himself, mind you; it’s for those of us who watch and love the game.

 

Perhaps no other Dolphin on the outside looking in has better overall credentials than does Moore. Consider:

  • There are 18 wide receivers in the Hall. He has better overall numbers than almost a third of them, including Lynn Swann.
  • He’s in the top 25 in NFL history in TD receptions (74), with more TDs than Michael Irvin, Charlie Joiner, Raymond Berry, and John Stallworth.
  • He won all the requisite awards (Pro Bowl, All-Pro honors), played in two Super Bowls, and represented himself, the Dolphins, and the NFL with class for his entire 13 year career. His off-the-field philanthropy is legendary throughout the league. (Yes, character counts!)

 

So why is it that one of the greatest players in NFL and Dolphin history hasn’t garnered more serious consideration?

 

Not even Edwin Pope, the venerable sports columnist for The Miami Herald, and member of the Hall of Fame selection committee, really understands it.

 

“I can't answer that question”, laments Pope. “I have brought him up, and tried to initiate discussion, but there just doesn't seem to be support. I feel bad about this -- he was a great player and is deserving.”

 

For those of you not in the know, when a legend like Pope gives his imprimatur, the question of worthiness is pretty much answered.

 

Now, in today’s “me first” NFL culture, one is expected to wonder why Moore himself hasn’t been more vocal in expressing his frustration in the delay. However, those who know “old school” Moore know that this is not his way.

 

In the classic Moore-ian style, such discussion is invariably deflected away. With him, it’s never about the first person.

“(The stats are) information that I didn’t even know,” said Moore predictably.

 

“The thing that frustrates me more than anything else when it comes to the Hall of Fame and receivers is the fact that Art Monk is not in there. I think we all know who played the game well, who should be there, and when you mention some of the people (in the Hall), I know that Art Monk shattered the majority of my numbers.”

 

“I am also frustrated that Mark Duper and Mark Clayton do not get any accolades. Without a doubt, I know that Clayton should be in the Hall of Fame.”

 

Now Monk is a great player. And Moore is right in that Clayton should get his due one of these days. But it is Moore that has been waiting the longest, and it is Moore that has been ignored the longest.

 

Never forget that, unlike some others with their busts in the Hall, Moore was about winning the right way, and doing things in life the right way. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t even think about talking numbers with the guy.

 

After all, the best way to judge a football player is to ask yourself, "How did he play the game?”.

 

As Edwin Pope said "More than anything -- and this is a wide statement when you consider all Nat Moore achieved in the field -- he has been a great citizen, a great American really, a plus-man in every respect."

 

When asked if he ever dreamed about what his numbers would have been like if he had a guy like Dan Marino tossing the rock to him earlier in his career, Moore is as quick as he was on the field in blowing past you, bringing you back to the ultimate point, which of course is winning.

 

“I really enjoyed playing with Bob Griese as much as I did playing with Dan Marino”, reflected Moore. “You play the game to try and win championships. For a team that pretty much ran the ball, we were pretty dadgone successful throughout my career.”

 

“Playing with Marino, at my age, was a lot of fun because we were throwing the ball around. I was not a physically strong as I had been earlier in my career where I was blocking LBs. I think as a player, you go out and you say ‘What can I contribute to the success of this football team?’”.

 

“I wouldn’t trade the 9 years prior to Danny as I wouldn’t trade the 4 years I played with Danny. It’s all a part of making me the person that I am.“

 

The reality of Moore’s situation today, as I write this, is that the Hall’s remaining chance at correcting this gross oversight will be through the Seniors Committee. That’s an avenue that’s worked somewhat more discreetly, a place where blatant omissions are corrected and history is made whole.

 

Nat Moore has to be near the top of that list, for history judges harshly those who ignore the truth.

 

In the meantime, look for Moore to continue on as the Dolphins Director of Alumni, Youth and Special Projects. He also runs his own Nat Moore Foundation, which focuses on Youth, Education, and Community causes.

 

And, yes, fans will continue to remember the lasting image of #89, spinning like a helicopter propeller after two Jet defenders temporarily detoured him from his usual destination…the endzone.

 

One hopes that today’s Dolphins and young players are smart enough to draw on this shining example, especially the wisdom that he gained by being around players that went to three straight Super Bowls and won consecutive championships.

 

“First and foremost, I learned that to be a part of an organization, to be a part of a winner, you couldn’t be selfish,” reflected Moore. “Each and every individual respected each other, they respected what everyone brought to the table, and they always helped each other.”

 

“For instance, I was a rookie running back (1974) being transformed into a wide receiver. I didn’t know a thing about being a wide receiver. But I had guys like (Paul) Warfield, (Howard) Twilley, and (Marlin) Briscoe, guys that I am competing with to take their jobs, who were more than happy to help me and teach me with the idea of the got injured I’d be ready to play and help the football team. I had Griese, Earl Morrall, defensive backs, everybody pitching in to make sure we were all on the same page.”

 

“As you look at today’s young players, what you try and teach them is that if you go out and just play the game, do your part, the numbers take care of themselves. You know, it’s amazing that I didn’t even know about all (my) career numbers. I never thought about it. I was busy having fun and trying to help the team win. And I think if you go out and do that, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the numbers accumulate.”

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

During the interview, Moore shared his views on various other topics. Here is an excerpt of his comments:

 

On the Dolphin Starting WRs

Both (Marty) Booker and (Chris) Chambers are somewhat similar receivers. They both have experience, they have knowledge, the understand how to get behind the defense. When you look at Ted Ginn, Jr., he’s a guy that’s still learning how to play at this level. His speed, of course, will affect defenses but only if he’s able to get in and make some big plays. Otherwise they will discount him and put their best player on him 1:1 and figure they’re going to win that match. Then they’ll double the other two receivers. Very seldom do you seek a rookie receiver who comes in and takes over the league. Last year was unnatural in what happened over in New Orleans with Marques Colston.

 

The most satisfying game of his career

Probably a big game against the Jets in (1981) when some of the reporters here basically had written me off. I had had an off year and what they didn’t realize was I was still a #1 receiver…and was still doing all the intangibles needed to win to help us get to the Super Bowl. (During the season) I had gotten spiked and blew out my ankle; that’s how Jimmy (Cefalo) ended up starting that game. So, I ended up going out and catching 7 balls for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns even though I still only played on first and second downs.

 

On Dan Marino throwing a hard pass

The thing that Danny brought to the table was that he had the arm strength to get it out there in a hurry but he also threw a soft ball. The guy was able to throw each and every pass. The difference between a Dan Marino and a John Elway, even a David Woodley (who had the strongest arm of all Dolphin QBs), is that Marino threw the ball with nose being up which made it a very soft pass to handle in traffic, easy to catch. That’s why he didn’t have a whole lot of dropped balls compared to Elway.

 

On the start of his pro career

I was never on the taxi squad. I returned punts and kickoffs the first five games of my career (in 1974). Both Paul Warfield and Marlin Briscoe went down, and I was asked to play in the Charger game and became a starter from that point on. I went on to have a real good rookie year. When Warfield came back, he lined up on the other side of me (left side, split end). Howard Twilley and myself were basically alternating at the right side (flanker).

 

On an article by The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero suggesting that the Dolphins should trade Jason Taylor

First of all, the person that wrote that article was basically trying to stir the pot. Very knowledgeable guy to a certain degree but knows very little about where this team is headed. The one thing you do not do when you’re trying to build a football team is trade away your stars and your leaders. You can have a ton of young guys and you get all of this supposed talent in but there’s no guarantees that they’re going to grow together, that there’s going to be the leadership that’s required. When you have a guy like Jason Taylor who leads by his actions on the field, that gives the young guys something to strive for.

 

On Terrell Owens and his end zone celebration against the Dolphins

I’m old school and I always felt like if you reserve that energy that you’re wasting to celebrate and bring attention to yourself, you’ll have much more energy when you get back on the field for the next play. As much as you celebrate, it wasn’t just you. There were 10 other players that had to do their job on the same play to be successful.

 

On the Patriots being caught spying and the punishment they received

The commissioner is trying to be stern about each and every thing that he does. I know that at some point the way you hurt a football team is you start to take things away. Now whether he took away too much or didn’t take away enough, only the commissioner knows that. It’s sort of like when you have a great player and you suspend him for four ballgames. That critically hurts your football team. When you lose a first round draft choice, that critically hurts a football team.

 
     
   
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