Tom Moore, working with Peyton Manning and the Colts (left) and now working with Carson Palmer and the Cardinals.
The times someone has a question, Tom Moore can see it coming.
"He'll look at you out of the corner of his eye and wait," quarterback Carson Palmer said of the offensive guru, who has the official title of assistant head coach/offense. "He can tell when you are about to ask something or are confused with something."
Once it's asked, Moore usually has the answer.
Of all the hires coach Bruce Arians made for his coaching staff, none created buzz like Moore's. The 74-year-old rose to national prominence during his 12-year stint as the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts during Peyton Manning's reign there, a marriage that benefitted both. Now Moore is helping Palmer, fellow quarterback Drew Stanton, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the offense in Arizona as a sounding board and a walking encyclopedia.
"He's really a teacher," Fitzgerald said. "He's a grass-roots teacher, big on the fundamentals, breaking the huddle, knowing your assignments. He's very methodical in the way he teaches, in the way he wants things run.
"He's a wealth of knowledge."
That shouldn't be a surprise, not from a guy who has been coaching in the NFL for some 37 years in one role or another. He's a guy
who spent 13 years with Chuck Noll in Pittsburgh coaching Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, coached Cris Carter and Randall McDaniel in Minnesota and Barry Sanders in Detroit.
Nobody is more closely associated with Moore than Manning, whom the Cardinals will see – albeit probably only on the sideline – when they visit the Denver Broncos in Thursday's preseason finale.
"I don't know if there will ever be an assistant coach in the Hall of Fame, but if there is one, Tom Moore has got to be the first one in," Manning said in the days before Super Bowl XLIV, when he and Moore were still with the Colts. "I'll be indebted for the rest of my life for what he has done for my career."
Moore cuts off such a suggestion. He wants nothing to do with it.
"I don't worry about stuff like that," Moore said. "My job is to do the very best job I can do and help those guys be the very best they can be. They work hard and they deserve you giving them the very best you have to help. That's all I worry about."
Once, he helped Manning, with whom Moore talks with only during the offseason. In Moore's mind, it's not professional to talk to another team's players during the season, so he hasn't gotten in touch with Manning as this week's game approaches.
It's an old-school thought, Moore acknowledges, then adds, "I don't know if it is old school or new school. I think it's the right school."
He's too busy with the Cardinals, anyway. Arians first worked with Moore on the 1998 Colts staff – when Manning was a rookie – and all these years later, fulfilled a promise to Moore than he would hire him if he ever got a head coaching job.
Moore, without a full-time coaching gig the last two seasons as health hampered his opportunities, jumped into his spot with the Cardinals.
With Arians running the offense and Freddie Kitchens as quarterbacks coach, "I'm kind of the third guy," Moore said. "And that's OK. I enjoy it. Anyway I can contribute and help, that's good."
That's come in myriad ways, not the least of which was subbing for Kitchens as quarterbacks coach when Kitchens was out following his aortic dissection. Mostly, he's someone who's willing to put his experience to use when needed, when someone needs to pick his brain.
Even his sideline demeanor is important, Stanton said, a calming influence in a sea of chaos.
"He's got stories, a lot of good stories, but a lot of it is 'x's and 'o's," Stanton said. "He's got a rhyme or reason for what he is saying. Sometimes you might get the backstory to it. He's been around a lot of not just football, but great football. He's a valuable resource."
Palmer likes that Moore will be patient with a question or a concept. Moore will study the video, offer up tips, decipher problems and be another set of eyes on whatever the Cardinals are doing. He is there to teach, which is what Arians wanted in the first place and why Manning swears by Moore.
As for Moore, he has said he never wants to retire. He wants to keep mentoring, like he does now with Palmer. He thrives on it.
"It's great to work with the quarterbacks that want to spend the time and effort to be great, like Peyton and Carson," Moore said. "You want to see them achieve and success because you know the time and effort they have put into it."