Through three games in 2020, the Indianapolis Colts have fielded one of the best defenses in the NFL and that group have been instrumental in the strong start made by Frank Reich's men. And one of the key defenders in Indianapolis is cornerback Kenny Moore, who has grown to become one of the game's best defensive backs, particularly in the slot. He may only be 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, but Moore hits hard and has a nose for the football. His NFL success is quite incredible given his views on American football during high school.
You played at the prestigious Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia, but only as a senior. You were at all those other games for three years but selling popcorn. It's incredible you weren't playing for much of your high school career. Why was that?
If you saw how small I was as a freshman, you would say, 'I think he doesn't like contact.' And that was true. I was small coming out of high school – I was about 5-foot-7 and 148 pounds. I was always the smallest guy on our team and the easiest to pick out. I looked like a kid even though I was as old as everyone else on the team. I had a freshman basketball coach who was in charge of the concession stands on the visitor's side and one of my teammates had a dad who worked those stands. He asked me, 'Hey, do you want to go and make some extra money on Fridays?' The money I earned from working that concession stand was my spending money for the weekend and that following week. Watching those guys warm up before we opened the concession stand was unbelievable. I would see all the college scouts at the game and that was incredible to me. I wanted to play receiver and wanted the ball in my hands, but my middle school coach told me he wanted me as a defensive back and he was scaring me. I quit football in ninth grade because I was so scared of being a cornerback. Then I ran track as a senior in high school and made it to the state finals as a hurdler. My track teammate got in trouble and got kicked off the varsity football team. He told me I should give it a try. I didn't think football would be the sport for me. But I went to see my old middle school coach who was now the high school coach and I gave it a shot. It worked out from there.
You entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with New England in 2017. You were cut at the end of that first training camp and signed with the Colts one day later. You made another significant signing with the Colts in 2019 when you inked a four-year extension that made you the highest-paid slot corner in the NFL. How did that feel?
That contract was life changing. My family supported me in times when I couldn't support myself. My mum has gone through so much and to tell her that she didn't have to work any more was one of the greatest days of my life. We both cried. That took us back all the years to me being a child when I told my mum I was going to play in the NFL and she wouldn't have to work anymore. As one of seven kids, we all understand what she has done for us. We continue to take as much stress as possible off our mum.
You've played in playoff games and had big performances in those contests but you've also experienced a weird preseason game during your NFL career. What was it like on that day in August 2018 when it emerged that Andrew Luck was retiring from the NFL? As word crept out of his retirement, it must have been a strange day?
I didn't really know what to think. What I did know was how loyal Andrew was to the game and to our team and how hard working and consistent he was. How much of a leader he was and what he brought to the game just boosted us even more. When things came out during the game against Chicago, I was like, 'I don't know what's going on.' The fans were telling us stuff and asking us players questions and I was saying, 'I don't know. I'm just here at the game.' But when he addressed us as a team, I was like, 'Wow.' He gave us an eye-opener into everything he was going through day in and day out. I had to respect a guy like that who has put everything he has into the game. All you can do is respect what he brought to the game.
For Neil's full interview with Kenny Moore check out The Neil Reynolds Podcast. The episode is streaming now wherever you get your podcasts.