Because of the long road he took to reach the NFL, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Andrew Hawkins has become one of the league’s feel-good stories in 2012. Coincidentally, Lance Moore followed a similar path to improbable success with the New Orleans Saints.
Like Hawkins, Moore was an undersized, undrafted college free agent from the University of Toledo. Both were forced to play in alternate leagues — Moore in NFL Europe; Hawkins in Canada with the CFL — to keep their NFL dreams alive. Moore overcame these longs odds to become one of the top receivers in Saints history and a hero in Super Bowl XLIV with his acrobatic scoring catch on a key two-point conversion.
Moore spoke with FOXSports.com this week about his NFL career, playing for the Saints, the state of his 0-3 team and Hawkins himself.
Q: This is your eighth NFL season. How does an undrafted guy from Toledo make it for so long?
Moore: "I think it’s just the way I work. I never had the feeling in the back of my mind that I’ve made it. Even though I’ve been around so long, I don’t ever allow myself to feel satisfied. I think that’s the main thing."
Q: You’re one of the few guys left in the league who played in NFL Europe. What was it like with the Berlin Thunder in 2006 both on and off the field there?
Moore: "First and foremost, it was an awesome experience. When (Saints general manager) Mickey Loomis told me I was going over there, I wasn’t too happy about it. I didn’t want to go and potentially get hurt, which ended up happening. But just to get over there and experience that culture and historic stadiums over there … Our home stadium in Berlin was where (Adolph) Hitler had his famous speech. It also was cool to see a soccer fan base come out and enjoy the game of football."
Q: Growing up outside of Columbus, Ohio, you know how popular the Ohio State Buckeyes are there. How does that compare with New Orleans and its love of the Saints?
Moore: "It’s definitely similar. In Columbus, there is nothing but Ohio State. There’s pro hockey and pro soccer, but the Ohio State Buckeyes are Columbus. In New Orleans, I tell people all the time that we have the best fans in the world, hands down. People take what we do very, very seriously here. They’ve supported us from the days of a 3-13 season in 2005 to winning a Super Bowl. If anybody deserved that type of season, it was these fans down here because they’ve endured so much and definitely have overcome a lot of adversity in the past."
Q: How did life change for you after winning Super Bowl XLIV and making such a memorable catch on a two-point conversion during the game?
Moore: "Life didn’t really change too much for me. Right after the game, people are obviously looking at you a little bit differently. But as the years go by, people kind of forget about it a little bit. It’s not quite that big of a deal. Personally, after that your life changes because you want to get back there (to the Super Bowl). You want to do whatever it takes to have that feeling again. That’s what the goal is."
Q: What’s something about Drew Brees that is pretty cool that not a lot of people know about?
Moore: "How cool he is. Drew Brees is talking to man No. 61 (i.e. the final practice squad player) the same way he’s talking to the No. 2 guy on this team. He’s definitely a great teammate, a great leader. If any guy has any kind of problem whether on field or off, they can really go and talk to him. He’s not going to have that arrogant attitude or be a nose-in-the-air type of guy. That’s not how he is. He cares about each and every one of the guys in this locker room."
Q: This team is obviously struggling at 0-3 and the offense isn’t firing on all cylinders like in recent seasons. What makes you optimistic that this can be corrected?
Moore: "It’s funny how when things are going the way you want them to go that people think there is some kind of huge problem or something like that. But it’s the little things. If only one little, tiny thing goes wrong on any certain play, it can be the doom of that play. We have to focus in a little more on what we’re doing and be a little more technically sound. I think we can turn this thing around."
Q: Finally, how proud are you of Andrew Hawkins?
Moore: "That’s my guy! He’s worked so hard. I love to see the success he’s having."