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.
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.
for himself, mind you; it’s for those of us who watch and love the game.
no other Dolphin on the outside looking in has better overall credentials than does
- 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!)
why is it that one of the greatest players in NFL and Dolphin history hasn’t
garnered more serious consideration?
even Edwin Pope, the venerable sports columnist for The Miami Herald, and
member of the Hall of Fame selection committee, really understands it.
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.”
those of you not in the know, when a legend like Pope gives his imprimatur, the
question of worthiness is pretty much answered.
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.
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
“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
“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
“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
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
“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:
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
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.
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.
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).
an article by The Miami
Herald’s Armando Salguero suggesting that the Dolphins should trade Jason
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.
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.
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.