“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” - B.C. Forbes
Denver Broncos Free Safety Rahim Moore’s childhood was full of scars and horrifying circumstances most people could never imagine. Football gave him a chance to change his future. With his mother involved in drugs, and his father out of his life for similar reasons, he often wondered what he could do to change that for himself. In an interview with CBS-4 in 2011 he said,
“I used to think hard at night. Sometimes I wouldn’t sleep and sometimes I’d cry. I’d say ‘What can I do to be a difference maker?’ And when I saw that football, boom, I knew it!”
The sport would become his way out of that scary life. He admitted that he could “easily be in jail right now or dead” if it weren’t for the game of football.
“It was a sport that I needed to play, it was meant for me.”
A Free Safety in the National Football League is responsible for being able to cover a receiver in man-to-man coverage and he must possess the speed to cover long touchdown passes. The best Free Safeties in the league are able to read a quarterback’s eyes and anticipate where the ball is going. This allows him, if he has the quickness, to cover gaps in the field of play and get a jump on a receiver during a passing play. It is important for him to also be able to support run defense and blitzes. Pat Kirwan said in his book Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look,
“The more versatile the safety–and the more of those jobs he can do–the more time he’ll see on the field and the more effective a weapon he’ll be.”
While most fans recall Rahim’s huge blunder on Joe Flacco’s 70 yard bomb to Jacoby Jones, most don’t recognize his consistency as a player in the Broncos secondary last year.
In 2012, Moore played 1,044 snaps, which were the most snaps played by a defensive player on the Broncos. He started 15 of the 16 games he played in, while notching 71 total tackles, one interception, seven passes defended and grabbed his first sack against Kansas City on December 30th. Moore helped the Broncos secondary hold the Chiefs to the fewest yards allotted in any NFL game in 2012, which was 26, with his team-led eight tackles. He was 3rd in tackles for the team on the season and set a career high with six solo tackles and six assists in New England on October 7th. He had big games against Baltimore. On December 16th, he recovered Flacco’s 1st quarter fumble and he notched seven tackles in the Divisional playoff loss on January 12th.
In an interview with Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post following the playoff loss, he said,
“I’m taking the blame for it. Hey, I lost the game for us. It is what it is.”
There are so many things that went wrong on that play besides Moore’s premature jump. Where to start? How about when Torrey Smith beat Champ Bailey twice? Or the fact that the pass rush was literally MIA against Flacco on that 70 yard pass? Oh and how about the fact that the team ran the ball three straight times and Mike McCoy, the offensive coordinator, made it impossible for Peyton Manning to call an audible because the players he sent on the field didn’t permit it? And how about Coach John Fox adding to the misery by taking a knee with two timeouts and 31 seconds left on the clock when he had perhaps the best 4th quarter quarterback to ever play the game on the field? Does Manning’s poor throw, across his body, leading to the game ending interception in double overtime even bear mentioning? That game was the definition of chaos. It is still hard to explain or comprehend, but Moore didn’t lose the game like he claims he did. At least he didn’t lose it by himself.
After taking the blame he told Kiszla,
“There’s never an ‘I’ in win. But there’s an ‘I’ in lose, because when you lose, you’ve got to look at yourself.”
That’s one thing he’s done this offseason, worked to get better. But after all those sleepless nights as a child, there’s a good chance he had more following that loss wondering what he could have done differently. There’s a chance he wasn’t mentally or emotionally okay after that playoff game. Fans are sometimes the worst. They love you at your best and hate you at your worst and there are no words for the terrible things seen said or tweeted about Moore after that blunder. That didn’t get him down though and on the first day of OTAs he said,
“I’ve been blessed with the supporting cast that I’ve had, some people out on the streets, in airports in California or Florida. And it’s a good thing that they really care. I’ve had some bad comments, but I keep those to myself because it’s part of the territory.”
He does hear those terrible remarks though and as hard as they are to hear, he said,
“The thing is, it’s like life in general: you have to move on. You’re going to have some good days, some bad days. But you can’t just thrive on the good days all the time.”
He continued, saying’
“that’s what they’re (the fans) supposed to do, that’s why they’re there for us, they pay all their money, their hard-earned money and they want to see greatness. So I don’t really blame them.”
After all, his teammates have his back and the organization as a whole has shown great support for him since January 12th. They don’t hold him responsible for that loss. He noted,
“They lifted me up and it was a great thing, because that’s what Coach Fox preaches is us being a team, and they did a great job.”
What happened in January will never be forgotten. It will live on in Broncos history forever. But perhaps, as Fox implied during OTAs, the wound is starting to heal.
Training camp has begun and fans are excited about the start of the 2013 season. On July 27th they started a brand new tradition when they stretched with the team.
“That’s a moment I’ll never forget,” Rahim said. “Even Champ Bailey was like, ‘What are they doing?’ I said, ‘Man, they’re stretching.’ It was a great moment. It was very funny.”
The excitement in the air is tangible, it’s almost like the players can reach out and touch it. Moore is thrilled to be back on the field and is already making noise with an interception of Manning on the third play of camp on the same day the new “stretch with the team” tradition was born.
“I want to start to back up that excitement. That’s why, when I make plays, I want to celebrate. I don’t care. I love the fans; they’re the best I’ve ever seen. It’s football, so they do a good job of motivating us every morning. When we come out here, the fans just embrace us. It’s like no other feeling.”
It’s apparent that Rahim Moore is ready to fix the mistakes he made last season.
It’s about time Broncos Country forgave him.