Former Patriots linebacker Marty Moore spent a half-hour talking to NESN.com last week about the advantages of being Mr. Irrelevant, but he told just too many anecdotes to fit into one story. It's time to empty the notebook. Enjoy.
Welcome to the Pros
Moore told a story about his first face-to-face meeting during his 1994 rookie season with Patriots head coach Bill Parcells and defensive coordinator Al Groh.
"The first meeting I had with the Patriots, I walked into the facility and I come up to the meetings," Moore said. "Bill Parcells is there. I introduced myself. Coach Parcells says, 'Marty, how much do you weigh?' I say, 'I weigh 242.' He goes, 'Al, go weigh him. I don't think he weighs 242.' So we go downstairs, and I weigh 242 on the nose. We go back up, and Bill goes, 'How much does Marty weigh?' Al goes, '242.' Bill goes, 'Marty, if you drop below 240, I'm cutting you.' I was in there five minutes, and I'm like, 'Great, this is perfect.' That was my first interaction with the Patriots on my first day of minicamp."
Nice to Meet You, Too
Moore was taken to Disneyland during his week in California. Before the parade, the Irrelevant Week committee introduced the linebacker to a tradition.
"They said, 'We want to get you with Mickey Mouse,'" Moore said. "They said, 'When we open the door, we want you to go tackle Mickey Mouse.' I'm like, 'OK.' Well, I didn't realize how little Mickey Mouse is, so I bust through the door and hit Mickey Mouse, and Mickey Mouse goes flying like five feet back and lands on his back. Disney is filming it, and they're going, 'Oh, great.'"
Perks of the Job
Moore received a trophy, among other things, for being Mr. Irrelevant. Here are some of those other things.
"I had 22 boxes of just random stuff that I got out there during Irrelevant Week, from Laker three-peat hats when [the Los Angeles Lakers] never three-peated, to the keys to the city, to Willie McGinest's USC jersey, and he was a first-round draft pick of the Patriots when I was drafted," Moore said. "I got a box of Pokemon cards and didn't know what they were. I wish I didn't throw those away because they're probably worth a lot of money now."
Moore, who hails from Kentucky, didn't have the benefit of Google Maps in 1994.
"Bill Parcells gets on the phone [after the draft]," Moore said. "He says, 'Hey, Marty, congratulations, we drafted you. We're looking forward to meeting you.' The whole time, I'm going, 'Where is New England?' I didn't even know where New England was. That was the farthest team from my mind that was going to draft me. It was also the farthest team from my mom and dad. I didn't know where the hell New England was. I didn't know what city I was flying into until I got my plane ticket."
Heard This Before?
Parcells and Bill Belichick are similar in so many ways, and it's amazing to hear players from past and present generations speak about the two coaches in a similar manner. Moore, who played a number of positions on every special teams unit, said Parcells appreciated his special teams play, and that helped spark and prolong his career.
"I hadn't played special teams since freshman year of college," Moore said. "[Parcells] liked me because I worked hard. He liked me because I had a good motor. He basically yelled at me enough, so special teams-wise, I learned it pretty quick. By my third year in the NFL, I had led the team in special teams tackles. I was a major contributor. Me and Larry Whigham were nominated for the Pro Bowl."
When weak inside linebacker Todd Collins got hurt, Parcells vaulted Moore up the depth chart.
"I hadn't even played that position at all during training camp," Moore said. "In training camp, I'm playing behind Vincent Brown as the strongside middle linebacker, and we go to Green Bay and Todd Collins gets hurt. Instead of taking David Bavaro and putting him in [for Collins], he puts me in there. I haven't played this position at all. I was a smart enough guy to figure it out. I knew all of the linebacker positions. I just studied my butt off and worked my tail off. I had a good game, and he started me the next week. And I still really didn't understand half the defense, but I studied and studied."
Moore was that underdog story who made it on special teams and used his intelligence to excel in other areas of the game. That story has been told time and again in New England.
"Having the ability to go in and know the playbook, know what I was doing, work hard, and special teams allowed me that avenue," Moore said. "Excelling in special teams extended my career, and being a smart player extended my career. Those are two things that Coach Parcells and Coach Belichick really want in all of their players. If you can go in there and excel in special teams, and play a lot of different positions and not make mental errors, you're that much more valuable to them. I tried to make sure that I was of value rather than being just a good special teams player. I wasn't a starter, but if I was just a good special teams player and that's all I could have done, I wouldn't have had the value of playing every linebacker position on the field. That's really what I tried to do. To them, be a guy they could plug in anywhere, and I could play when someone was hurt or I could play in a pinch.
"When I went to the Browns [in 2000], I started nine games, and I ended up with over 120 tackles. When I was with the Patriots, I was with a very stalwart linebacker group: Ted Johnson, Tedy Bruschi, Chris Slade, Willie McGinest. Those guys are all All-Pros. When I went to the Browns, I kind of stood out there because we didn't have that talent at the Browns' linebacking corps. But what really extended my career and got me going was special teams and being a smart player for the Patriots."
One Last Note
Due to league-awarded compensatory picks, the NFL draft never has a set number of selections. Moore was the 222nd overall pick in the 1994 draft, which makes him the earliest-selected Mr. Irrelevant in history. For instance, last year's final pick, Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop, was taken with the 256th overall selection.