The Comeback Kicker
ALAN MOORE must have made for an unusual sight, alone on the football field of the local high school, a retired man kicking ball after ball down the field; and practicing with all the zeal of a high-school kid hoping to catch the attention of college recruiters. Though high school was far in his past, he was, in fact, aspiring for a college football career and a return to the game after a 40-year hiatus.
Alan, who lettered in four different sports in high school, began his first college-football career as a starting kicker for Jones Junior College in Mississippi which was cut short in 1968 when he left to serve in Vietnam. He says that after he came home, he never even thought about trying to play again—until a couple of years ago when he went to visit his grandchildren and stopped by to watch a Jones football game. The old itch returned. Maybe he could still play, he thought. Then what might have been a passing notion quickly turned to steely resolve when others scoffed.
"When I started talking about playing again on a team they would laugh or just change the conversation," he says. "Then I felt like I had something to prove."
Alan went out and bought a practice ball, then 10 more. "In one week I kicked 350 balls and could barely get out of bed on Sunday morning," he remembers. Coaches weren't exactly beating down his door, but when Faulkner University Head Football Coach Gregg Baker saw him kick, he wanted to hear Alan make his case.
"I said, 'Alan, why are you doing this?'” Baker remembers. "I wanted to make sure this wasn't just a novelty or publicity thing. But he said that he wanted to show these kids that no matter what their ages, there's no reason to give up. “
"That sold me. I wanted to give him an opportunity to do what he hadn't finished."
In Faulkner's season opener in September, Alan, at 61, became the oldest person to play in a college football game when he kicked an extra point against Ava Maria University. His kids and grandkids were there to see it. He wanted to present them with that symbolic football as a gift. But someone else already had a claim on it—the College Football Hall of Fame, where the signed football will be on display for posterity.
But Alan still will have another memento after he graduates—yes, he is earning a degree in liberal arts, as a student-athlete who just happens to have an AARP card. There's been a lot of interest in that "old-school," square-toed kicking shoe of his with the word BELIEVE written on it.
“You have to believe in yourself and you have to believe in God,” Alan says. “You have to have that if you’re going make it in anything you want to do.”