'Crazy' year for Concordia's Moore: From D2 school to Super Bowl champ
Zach Moore's voice sounded a little groggy over the phone Thursday morning.
It's been a wild week -- and month, and year -- for the Concordia (St. Paul) star turned Super Bowl champion. "It's been crazy, man," the Patriots defensive tackle told FOXSportsNorth.com. "Hopefully, I can get some sleep here soon."
Moore didn't suit up for any of New England's playoff games, including its dramatic Super Bowl XLIX victory Sunday, but he hoisted the trophy after the Patriots erased a 10-point deficit in the second half. He wasn't on the field for Seattle's final drive, but he sweat his way through it until friend and fellow rookie Malcom Butler's game-sealing interception.
Then came a wild night of celebration, a joyous flight from Arizona to Boston, and an even bigger party and championship parade Wednesday through the streets of Beantown.
With the joy still fresh, Moore can begin to reflect. He's come a long way since growing up on the streets of Chicago, working his way through academic issues that nearly kept him out of college football, having a daughter who's now 4 years old, and working out in Scottsdale -- a mere 27 miles from the sight of the Patriots' latest championship triumph -- to realize his once-far-fetched NFL aspirations.
"It was definitely a long road," Moore, 24, said. "Nothing was really handed to me or given to me. I've had to work really hard for the things I have today, but that's made me a better person and a better player. Fighting through adversity, never giving up, and having to work hard to get better, it ultimately landed me on an NFL roster, and then in the Super Bowl.
"It's crazy how everything worked out."
After his standout career at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, grade issues kept Moore from getting into a Division I program. He eventually landed at Concordia, where he was deemed academically ineligible midway through his career and had to redshirt. He also spent the spring of his sophomore year living and studying in Chicago and coming back to St. Paul on the weekends.
Moore finished his career with 33 sacks, ninth in Division II history. He also finished it with a degree in criminal justice.
Zach Moore (90), while at Concordia (St. Paul)
Along the way, his daughter Amayah was born.
After college came some high-end training in Arizona, a solid showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, and his jubilant reaction when the Patriots took him in the 2014 draft's sixth round.
"It's been very, very exciting from the time I got drafted to this point," Moore said. "A lot of stuff happened in between that. It's the longest season I've gone through in football, and it's all worth it."
Moore appeared in eight games during his rookie season and made one start Nov. 16 at Indianapolis thanks to an injury to defensive end Chandler Jones. On Oct. 26, his half-sack of Jay Cutler helped force a fumble that Rob Ninkovich returned for a touchdown in a 51-23 stomping of Moore's hometown Bears.
He also appeared in headlines when Lions center Dominic Raiola punched him in the head and dove at his knees during New England's 34-9 win. Raiola received a $10,000 fine, and Moore received praise for not retaliating.
On Super Bowl media day, he won an Xbox One from Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child for singing the words to a pair of Katy Perry Songs. In the game itself, he wasn't surprised when Butler, another Division II product, picked off that infamous Russell Wilson pass. And he knew coach Bill Belichick had dialed up the right defense and acted rightly in letting the clock run rather than calling a timeout or letting Seattle score to preserve time in the final sequence.
"He's a great mind," Moore said of Belichick. "He knows football, especially situational football. He really gets your mindset going to what you particularly need to get done.
"I'm happy for (Butler). He definitely deserves everything that's happened the past few days."
On Wednesday, Moore soaked in the scene as thousands of fans braved frigid temperatures for the championship parade in Boston. "I've never felt so much energy in my life," he said.
The 6-foot-6, 275-pounder is under contract through 2018 on a $2.3 million contract. After some traveling and offseason workouts, he plans to approach training camp the same way he did as a rookie -- knowing he's grappling for a spot on the 53-man roster.
For now, he can revel. And wait for the ring that's coming his way.
But first, some long-overdue Zzzs.
"Being part of the Super Bowl experience, especially in my first year, was really crazy," Moore said. "To make it to the Super Bowl, let alone win it, it was great."
Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter