Blake Moore Shares Story of Remarkable Rise to Success in the NFL
Former Fighting Scot standout describes triumph of the spirit in Through a Pigskin Prism
WOOSTER, Ohio — Blake Moore's improbable journey from The College of Wooster to the National Football League — a remarkable trek that took him from Wooster's Severance Stadium to Super Bowl XVI — is an inspiring tale of incomparable dedication and unwavering determination, which he shares publicly for the first time in his autobiography, Through a Pigskin Prism, published last month by Outskirts Press and available at amazon.com, ibook, and Kindle.
A 1980 Wooster graduate, Moore was a pudgy offensive lineman in middle school, but through a rigorous training regimen and a fortuitous growth spurt, he developed through high school and college into a 6'5", 250 lb. center, with the strength and the smarts to be considered a prospect — albeit a long shot — in the world's most elite professional football league, the NFL.
Moore grew up in Chattanooga, Tenn., a small city about 10 hours to the south. His great grandfather played on Wooster's first varsity football team in 1889. His grandfather and father also attended Wooster, so it was not surprising when Moore chose the College over Colby and Carleton, even though he had never set foot on campus.
Moore describes his Wooster years as a time when he grew up, and learned who he was and who he could be. The best day of his life, he says, was when he met his future wife, Cindy Weiler, though it took a couple of dates and persistence on his part to convince her that he was the one. Today the couple, parents of two grown children, continue to share life's adventures together.
On the gridiron, it was becoming increasingly clear that Moore was not your typical Division III football player. Art Marangi, Wooster's offensive line coach at the time, quickly recognized the center's talent and elevated him to role of starter, despite his freshman status.
During his four years at Wooster, Moore received many honors, including the Gregory Award as the top offensive lineman in the Ohio Athletic Conference — a designation he won as both a junior and a senior. He also was named "Little" (small college) All-American and Academic All-American.
By his junior year, Moore was turning heads in Ohio and throughout the Midwest with his imposing size and his stellar play. Among those who noticed was Ernie Infield, sports information director at Wooster at the time. Infield placed a call to an acquaintance of his — the legendary Paul Brown, owner of the Cincinnati Bengals — telling him that this kid (Moore) was "worth a look." The Cleveland Browns also expressed interest, as did several other teams.
Despite the anticipation, Moore was not drafted in 1980 — the first draft ever televised on ESPN — but he did receive a call from the Bengals shortly thereafter inviting him to sign as a free agent. Moore accepted the offer, put plans for law school on hold, and prepared to overcome seemingly impossible odds to become a player in the NFL, especially with Anthony Munoz, an All-American lineman from USC and a future Hall of Famer, now on the roster as the Bengals No. 1 pick.
Moore's mental stamina and his ability to adjust to the NFL culture of "power, pain, denial, and machismo" led him to overcome daunting odds and earn a spot on the Bengals 45-man roster. As a free agent, he didn't have much leverage, so he signed an initial contract worth $30,000 for the first season. But his salary was no reflection of his desire, not only to stay on the team, but also to play and ultimately start.
That day finally came late in his first year when starting center Blair Bush was sidelined with an injury. Moore started against the Raiders in Oakland, and in that game, he exasperated legendary defensive lineman John Matuszak, pestering him all day with cut blocks that kept him away from the Bengals' quarterback and reportedly causing iconic Raiders owner Al Davis to remark, "Where the hell is Wooster College, and why aren't we scouting there?"
Moore continued to defy the odds, and in his second year, he was part of a Bengals team that posted a 12-4 regular-season record and advanced all the way to the Super Bowl. Although they came up short against the San Francisco 49ers, Moore enjoyed an unforgettable experience as part of one of the world's greatest spectacles.
After four years with the Bengals, Moore became a victim of the fierce competition in the NFL and was cut, but once again, he refused to give up. He hired an agent and was picked up by the Green Bay Packers. Despite a slow start that season (1984), the Packers rallied to win seven of their last eight games, including a victory over the Detroit Lions in which Moore caught a touchdown pass on a tackle-eligible play. He would go on to do it again the following season, making him one of the few offensive linemen in NFL history to have two touchdown receptions. He is also a member of a small fraternity of NFL players who left the game on their own terms. After two years in Green Bay and six overall in the NFL, Moore decided that it was time to retire and get on with his life.
Moore's account of his football career in Pigskin Prism is honest, genuine, gripping, and insightful. He provides an inside look at one of the world's most violent yet popular sports. He talks about what it was like to share the field with such legends as Walter Payton, Earl Campbell, Joe Montana, and James Lofton, along with many others. He also shares touching moments from his personal life, including his courtship with Cindy and the birth of their two children.
The title of the book reflects the influential role that football has had in Moore's life. "The lessons learned, the failures, the successes, the competition, the ability to do something that most people thought I would never do, the discipline, the teamwork, the drive — all these things have been with me through football and during my professional and personal life after football," he said. "My life has not been defined by football, but much of what I have been able to achieve and do is attributable to, and a reflection of, my football career and lessons from the field. Through a pigskin prism."