Assistant head coach Tom Moore talks with quarterbacks Drew Stanton (5), Carson Palmer (3) and Ryan Lindley (14) during a game early in the 2013 season.
The bounce in the step of Tom Moore might be from the knee replacement procedures which make him feel two decades younger than his 75 years. Or it might be because, heading into his 50th season coaching football in a professional capacity, this doesn't feel like a job at all.
Moore is entering his second season with the Cardinals in 2014 and his 36th in the NFL. It can be a grueling occupation at times, with long hours and the demands of maintaining every possible competitive edge, but Moore couldn't imagine having it any other way.
"I enjoy every single phase of this game," he said. "The travel, the competition, the hours. There's not one single thing I
dislike about the game of football. I'm living the dream, and it's pretty cool when you can live a dream – especially a good dream."
The coaching journey began in 1955, when Moore, a star quarterback at Rochester (Minn.) High School, took the reins of a youth basketball team. He had a distinguished playing career --winning a state title in high school and a national championship at Iowa -- but was immediately hooked to the teaching side.
Moore has coached 13 years in college and one in the World Football League in addition to his NFL tenure. He served in different offensive capacities with the Colts, Jets, Lions, Saints, Vikings and Steelers before joining the Cardinals, where he now sits as the right hand man to coach Bruce Arians.
"He's a stabilizer," Arians said. "As a head coach, you don't want to bounce ideas off your staff, but you do want to be able to lean on somebody and I lean on him a lot. He also has a great game-day presence with our quarterback, so I don't have to be involved in that. We have a great communication between (quarterbacks coach) Freddie (Kitchens), Tom and Carson (Palmer). They work together. And he has an experience level that is hard to find."
Moore has coached numerous Hall of Famers in his career, including Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter, Lions running back Barry Sanders and Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann. The one player that stands out to him the most, though, is quarterback Peyton Manning. The pair worked together in Indianapolis for 13 years, setting many offensive records along the way.
"Peyton's special," Moore said. "I don't think anybody has a clue how hard he works and how much time he spends. They think they do. It's unbelievable, his preparation and work ethic. The big thing is quality time. Some people mistake time spent for work done. When he works, he works. Everything is focused and everything is concentrated. It's fun to see a guy who actually works that hard enjoy that kind of success."
Moore has coached in four Super Bowls and won three of them, but the game that sticks out to him the most is the 38-34 AFC championship victory over the Patriots in 2006 when he was with the Colts.
"At one point we were down 21-3 and came back and beat them, and that put us in the Super Bowl," Moore said. "But they're all big. Last year, going up to Seattle and beating Seattle, that was a big, big victory. They all have special meaning, but every game has a special meaning. And then, win or lose, you have to put it to bed and move on."
Moore said he's been able to coach for so long because he enjoys the process. The season is several months away, but he still finds joy in coming to work, and "when you don't enjoy all of it, it's time not to do it."
Arians, 61, began at a similar age, but can't imagine sticking around for 50 years of coaching.
"No, that means I have to get closer to 75 myself," Arians said with a laugh, "and I ain't doing that."
Moore could have retired years ago, but his interest in coaching has never waned. And when those Sundays roll around in the fall and the Cardinals prepare for a fourth quarter drive with the outcome in doubt, he will be right at home.
"Everybody has addictions," Moore said. "That's my addiction: The games. I love the games."