In his own time, Moore thrilled

first_imgOnce every week or two, Lenny Moore cuts away from his job as a juvenile services counselor to watch the Baltimore Ravens practice and chat with the players. Once in a while, one of the Ravens will surprise him. “Some of the younger guys actually knew who I was,” Moore said. “I was happily shocked. They’ve got all this stuff on TV, the playbacks and these guys identify. A couple of them have said, ‘Man, I saw you Mr. Moore, you were something. I didn’t know you could run like that.’ ” No matter where they line up, no matter how they’re given the ball, they seem to find a way to put it in the end zone – often spectacularly. That was Moore’s game, too. Angular, athletic and tall, at nearly 6-foot-2, Moore was also among the league’s fastest players, something he took pride in by taping over his high-tops so they looked like the sleeker low-cuts. Moore arrived from Penn State as a running back and averaged 7.5 yards per carry, winning rookie of the year honors. But his pass-happy coach, Weeb Ewbank, began to use him more as a receiver and – learning from Berry – Moore caught 50 passes for an 18.8 average in 1958, when Baltimore won the first of back-to-back NFL titles. In 1964, after a couple of injury-plagued seasons, Moore was returned to the backfield by coach Don Shula and scored 16 touchdowns rushing and another three receiving. He was named the Comeback Player of the Year and the Most Valuable Player in leading the Colts back to the championship game. When Moore retired after the 1967 season, only Jim Brown had scored more than his 111 career touchdowns, a total that still ranks ninth all-time. “He played on a team of stars, but he was something special,” Accorsi said of a Colts’ offense that led the league in scoring five times in 10 years and included Hall of Famers Unitas, Berry and tackle Jim Parker. “He was an electrifying player.” Moore, now 71, has relished the attention he’s received with Tomlinson’s run at his record. In a phone interview, he’s engaging, praises Tomlinson and seems eager to talk about anything – except himself. “You don’t get stuck on yourself because they forget about you quick,” Moore said. “The further back you go, the less you remember. It seems to be the whole societal norm.” So, he’ll sit in his living room today, just as he does most weekends, and watch football not much differently than others. “Wow, I’m just as excited as some of the other people at some of the things these players do,” Moore said. “I never put myself in their situation. If you asked me when I ran the ball, I never thought at all. My mind was perfectly blank. Whatever reaction I’d have, I’d have to go to the film.” Just like the rest of us. Elsewhere around the league in Week 7: When Pittsburgh plays at Cincinnati today in a game that will determine the shape of the AFC North playoff race, it will pit the quarterbacks with the top two passer ratings – the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger at 123.8 and the Bengals’ Carson Palmer at 113.6. They’ve combined to throw 20 touchdowns against two interceptions. Former NFL receiver Cris Carter, on HBO, talking about ex-linebacker Bill Romanowski, who took a turn on 60 Minutes to plug his new book, which acknowledges his steroid use: “He is a dirty player. When you go on the field with him at the beginning of a game or catch a ball he would tell you, ‘Carter, I am going to kill you. I am going to end your career. I am going to take your knees out.’ Now there are certain aspects of football that we all know. They are not your typical, average 9-to-5 jobs, but why do we have to get to the point that we have to accept stuff like this?” Vikings center Matt Birk, to Sports Illustrated, on reports that his teammates flew in strippers from out of state on the now-infamous boat cruise: “I think it’s a slap in the face to Minnesota strippers. Don’t they have a union?” Billy Witz covers the NFL for the Daily News. He can be reached at (818) 713-3621 or [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “This is probably a preposterous statement to make for a Hall of Famer, but Lenny Moore has got to be one of the NFL’s most understated great players,” said Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi, who watched and read about Moore as a teenager growing up in Hershey, Pa. “You don’t hear much about him.” That’s been changing the last week. Moore’s name is back in the news, dragged there by Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who has equaled Moore’s NFL record of scoring a touchdown in 18 consecutive games. If you haven’t heard of Moore, it’s probably because the closest anyone had come to his record, set from 1963-64, was O.J. Simpson, who had 14 in a row in 1975. The NFL was a different place when Moore starred for the Colts from the mid-’50s to mid-’60s. It was beginning its transition from a mom-and-pop operation, which paid so little that players worked in the offseason, to the multi-billion dollar cultural behemoth it is today. Moore, though, would have fit in quite well in today’s game. To anyone who watched football on television last weekend, there was little doubt who the two most dynamic players were: USC’s Reggie Bush on Saturday and Tomlinson on Sunday. center_img Mention Lenny Moore’s name around Baltimore and anyone worth a crab cake will tell you all about the Hall of Fame running back and receiver – or any other Baltimore Colt from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, be it icons like Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry to foot soldiers like Rich Volk and Norm Bulach. Move outside the beltway and to the under-30 demographic, and a good many people wouldn’t know Lenny Moore from Lenny Bruce. last_img