Last year, the Deer Valley alumnus got lucky and went to Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas as a Southern Methodist University student when a teammate’s dad had an extra ticket in the nosebleed seats.
He’ll have a better view this year.
As a defensive back for the AFC Champion New England Patriots, Moore will compete on Sunday in Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants, who also field a local guy in Los Medanos College grad and defensive end Dave Tollefson.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” Moore said during Super Bowl Media Day. “I just try not to think about it right now, especially with this game Sunday. It’ll be something I’ll think about definitely after the season and kind of reflect on how I got here. But now I’m just looking forward to the Giants.”
Playing in the Super Bowl was a pipe dream for Moore four years ago – or even at the beginning of the season.
According to Deer Valley head coach Rich Woods, Moore didn’t even start playing football until his senior year. He was a guard on the Wolverines’ varsity basketball team as a junior, but some friends in the weight room convinced him to give the gridiron a shot.
As a cornerback for Deer Valley, Moore was a key part of the Wolverines’ Bay Valley Athletic League champion squad. He played for DV with Taiwan Jones, now a Raiders running back. Moore made 10 solo tackles and had a hand in 22 total stops. Deer Valley finished the regular season 10-0 before falling to Pittsburg in the first round of the playoffs.
Woods noted that while Moore wasn’t the biggest or fastest guy on the field, he knew how to play. “He wasn’t all-league or any of that – he was just a great player,” Woods said. “That season really got him excited about football again. He was just excited about the opportunity to play.”
After graduating from Deer Valley in 2007, Moore spent a year at Los Medanos College, working at Best Buy in Pittsburg while taking classes and playing football for the Mustangs.
He transferred to Laney College in Oakland for his sophomore season, making the state all-junior college team, but slipping under the radar of major colleges.
Moore accepted an offer from Southern Methodist University and excelled in his first season in Dallas. He led the Mustangs with 11 pass breakups as a junior, making 35 tackles and starting 10 of SMU’s 11 games.
But Moore suffered an injury to his left knee that required three surgeries in two years. He played in only eight games in his final year of college and signed before this season as an undrafted free agent with his favorite NFL team, the Oakland Raiders.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Moore told The Press in August. “I didn’t think I’d get a chance to be in this situation, but I worked my butt off to get back.”
After seeing some playing time in the preseason, he was placed on Oakland’s practice squad and then cut. A few days later, he earned a tryout with the New England Patriots and impressed enough to earn a spot on the practice squad. Moore was able to forgive his new employer for the “Tuck Rule” game in the 2002 AFC Divisional Playoffs, where the Raiders fell to the Patriots following an official’s controversial call.
On Dec. 23, Moore finally earned his big break – a spot on New England’s active roster.
The defensively depleted Patriots needed some help in their secondary. Moore answered the call with vigor.
In the final week of the regular season, Moore earned NFL Rookie of the Week honors after intercepting two passes against the Buffalo Bills, returning one for a touchdown. He became a fixture in the defensive rotation after that.
“He competes hard and he’s a tough kid,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told ESPN.com. “He’s got good ball skills. He gets around the ball.”
While the more publicized talents of quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork helped the Patriots earn the playoff berth, New England might not be in the Super Bowl were it not for the undrafted rookie Moore.
With roughly 30 seconds remaining in the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots were clinging to a 23-20 lead. The Ravens had the ball at New England’s 14-yard-line, primed to score.
Quarterback Joe Flacco threw a pass to Lee Evans, headed for the end zone. Evans initially caught the ball, but Moore knocked it out of his hands. Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff proceeded to miss the game-tying field goal – and New England advanced to the Super Bowl.
Watching at home, Moore’s high school coach was impressed but far from surprised.
“He puts himself in that position,” Woods said. “He made some great plays for us, too.”