At 75, Arizona assistant Moore still going strong

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) In Arizona Cardinals training camp, he usually was the first on the practice field. It has, after all, been his home for so long.

Two months shy of his 76th birthday, Tom Moore is in his 50th year of coaching His career began as a freshman coach at his alma mater Iowa, then in the Army, where in South Korea he led a military team in his only stint as a head coach.

”I learned a long time ago,” he said, ”and I believe this, there is nothing wrong with being a good assistant coach.”

He has been one all over the map.

Since 1977, Moore has coached in the NFL, serving as offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts. Along the way, he’s earned three Super Bowl rings.

”Well,” he said, ”I’ve lived a dream.”

After the 2010 season, though, he thought Father Time finally had exacted its toll. His knees simply had worn out.

Following 13 years with the Colts, 12 as offensive coordinator, he went to the Duke University campus to help Andrew Luck prepare for the NFL. While Moore was there, Duke coach David Cutcliffe urged him to get his knees checked by doctors.

What followed was surgery to replace both knees.

”It’s a miracle,” Moore said. ”You’re pain free, you got all your energy back, and your life back.”

It was about that time that longtime friend Bruce Arians, then interim head coach of the Colts, ran into Moore in Jacksonville.

”I said, `Holy cow, you look 20 years younger. What the heck is going on?”’ Arians recalled. ”He said `I got my knees replaced, birdied the 17th at TPC today.’ He just looked so much younger and he said, `I’m coaching again.”’

Arians said he told Moore ”if I ever get a job, you’ve got a job.”

A couple of months later, at age 60, Arians was hired to coach the Cardinals, and he made Moore assistant head coach/offense.

He is, essentially, Arians’ right-hand man and will be on the sideline when Arizona opens its season Monday night against San Diego.

” Tom’s the cross-checker. He dots all the I’s and crosses the T’s for me,” Arians said, ”makes sure everything is sound and ready because I come up with some crazy ideas sometimes, and he’ll give me a yay or a nay. I give a lot of stock to his yays and nays. … Iean on him a lot.”

Asked if Moore shows any diminished energy, Arians said, ”Gosh no. He’s there at 4:30 or 5 every morning and rolling, always has a ton of tape watched and another idea.”

As he always has done, Moore keeps a particular eye on the quarterback. He has worked with the likes of Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw and journeyman Scott Mitchell. But, although he said he doesn’t like to compare quarterbacks, one stood out.

For more than a decade, his quarterback was Peyton Manning.

”Peyton’s very, very special,” Moore said. ”He’s a special individual and his work ethic and his preparation are just meticulous. Peyton makes everybody in the organization better. He made me a better coach and I’ll be the first to admit it.”

Throughout his career, Moore never has lost sight of the fact that the head coach is the boss.

”Bruce is a lot like Chuck Noll,” Moore said. ”They know what they want and you to teach what you want. Bruce’s offensive system is very, very sound and he knows it very well. Our biggest job is to coach that system.”

Moore said he can be ”flexible,” adjusting to the changes in the game over the decades.

”But one thing that hasn’t changed is it’s still a game of people,” Moore said. ”It all boils down to people working with people, teaching people.”

In Arizona, that’s meant working with 12-year NFL veteran Carson Palmer.

”In all the meetings he gets involved,” Palmer said. ”He’s always got good input and good ideas and the things he sees on film.”

Backup quarterback Drew Stanton said Moore ”is a great sounding board for everybody.”

”He watches as much film and is as knowledgeable as anybody I’ve been around,” Stanton said.

Moore said he will keep working as long as someone will hire him ”because I love the game.” He repeatedly expresses his gratitude to Arians.

”I’m forever indebted to Bruce,” he said, ” for giving me the opportunity to work, because some people get a little nervous when they look at your birth certificate.”

Age obviously doesn’t bother Arians. Moore isn’t even the oldest on the staff.

Pass rush specialist Tom Pratt is 79. And, for heaven’s sake, Pratt coached in the first Super Bowl.

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