The 61-Year-Old Football Player
Vietnam vet Alan Moore is back on the college gridiron as a placekicker
Alan Moore was a crackerjack college football placekicker before the Vietnam War, two marriages, three children and decades of construction work intervened.
But people who convert blueprints into buildings tend to complete things. So at 61, Moore is playing college football again, to the delight of Faulkner University, a tiny Christian college in Montgomery, Ala.
"I'm having a lot of fun," says Moore, a full-time student who has a private room in a dormitory and is working on a bachelor's degree in liberal arts. "It's just wonderful to be around all those kids."
In a concession to his age, the dry-witted, 5-foot-7, 170-pound placekicker hews to a specialized workout routine. "I don't do a lot of stretching," he deadpans, "because everything is already stretched to the limit and I don't want to break it."
Moore avoids the weight room, too. What if a blocked kick causes hulking young opponents to stampede his way?
"My job is to kick," Moore says, his tone making it clear that violent gridiron collisions aren't his thing. He won't rule out tackling opposing players, but "they have to be real slow," he says. "They have to be so slow that you'd need a calendar, and not a stopwatch, to time 'em."
When Moore trotted onto the field Sept. 10, wearing the Faulkner Eagles' cobalt-blue home uniform, history was made when he calmly scored a point after a touchdown that boosted the Eagles to a 25-0 advantage over visiting Ave Maria University. (The Eagles won the game 41-19.) Moore became the oldest person to play in a collegiate game, according to the Associated Press.
The late George Blanda, who set the National Football League record as the oldest player at 48, was a pimply whippersnapper compared with Moore, whose Eagles are in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Hailing from Taylorsville, Miss., Moore first donned helmet and pads as a seventh-grader. In 1968, as a freshman at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss., Moore's kicking helped his team clinch a national championship.
Military service brought football and college to a halt. Finding himself attached to the Army's 4th Infantry Division, Moore conducted reconnaissance sweeps in the central highlands of Vietnam. It's a chapter of Moore's life he politely declines to rehash.
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A father of three daughters and grandfather of five, Moore was in the construction business for 37 years after the Army, and was a development superintendent at a North Carolina construction site in 2009 when he got laid off.
That same year Moore attended a college football game in Mississippi and noted out loud that he could outperform one team's struggling placekicker. Chuckles from his brother, Lynn Moore, prompted Moore to buy some cleats and start knocking the rust off his placekicking game.
He attempted to bring things full circle last year by unsuccessfully trying out for Jones County Junior College's football team. Instead, Moore kicked for Holmes Community College in Goodman, Miss., which posted a 0-9 football record in 2010.
Moore's next goal was to play for Faulkner and its skeptical head football coach, Gregg Baker, 45. "He actually came to us back in the spring," Baker recalls. "One of my assistant coaches brought him to my attention.
"I asked [Moore] point-blank, 'Why are you doing this?' " Baker says. "He said, 'Coach, my biggest thing is to show [Faulkner students] that they should never give up on anything that they start.' "
That includes getting a diploma. Moore is looking forward to graduation day, joining hordes of other college grads in vigilantly monitoring the employment market.
"When I get out of here with a degree, I'll be about 64, 65," Moore says, laughing. "I'll try to get me a job with AARP, I guess."
Blair S. Walker is a writer in Miami.
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