Leny Moore - Woven With Words

 

Lenny Moore: A Quiet Hero

Donald Liguori

 

The Baltimore Colts are on the goal line about to score the winning touchdown.  The center grabs the ball and hikes to Johnny Unitas.  He hands off to Lenny Moore, the Colts’ running back, who powers his way to the end-zone for a touchdown in a classic Lenny Moore play.  He and Unitas were a legendary pass-catch combo that dominated the NFL for almost a dozen years.

 

Moore, an African American icon who played for the Baltimore Colts from 1956 to 1967, was born in Reading in 1933 to a large working-class family.  He started playing football at Reading High and continued while at Penn State.  There, he was one of a small number of African Americans at a time when African Americans were routinely shut out of restaurants, barbershops, and other establishments.

 

 A particularly positive figure in Moore’s life was Penn State coach Rip Engle.  As Moore recalled, “we knew if we ran into a problem we could go to the coaches.  And it didn’t have anything to do with race.  They said if we had any problems we should come, that was comforting; you go where you’re appreciated” (“Moore”).

 

His college record led him to the Colts in 1956 as a first-round draft pick.  In 1958, he helped spearhead the Colts’ NFL championship, earning him Rookie of the Year and All-Pro honors, which he received for the next three years, and again in 1964.  Moore also played in seven Pro Bowls.  As a player, he was renowned for giving one hundred percent on every play, and his speed, work ethic, and unselfishness on the field gained him MVP honors in 1964 (Zielinski, Murray).  From 1963 to 1965, he scored touchdowns in 18 consecutive games, a feat which stood as an NFL record until 2005.

 

When Moore retired following the 1967 season, he left behind statistics that secure his place among football’s elite: 12,451 combined net yards, 5174 yards rushing, 363 pass receptions, and 113 touchdowns.  Lenny Moore’s grace and hard work ultimately earned him pro football’s highest honor: induction into the NFL Hall of Fame.

 

After his playing career he was active in such causes as juvenile justice and helping to steer troubled youth to achieve their goals (Zielinski).  His legacy is summed up by sportswriter Mike Zielinski: “Lenny Moore truly is a Reading treasure and he should never get lost in the fog of time” (Zielinski).

 

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@ 2018 Reading Branch #2289 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People