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NFL Legend Ron Moten Found a Career After Football While Passing On Lessons to His Son

Welcome to Why We Play, a series of discussions with current players and NFL Legends about their youth football experience and why they play the game.

Whenever he's back in Clearwater, Florida, Ron Moten reflects on his youth football days with old friends. 

“I started playing (youth football) in second grade," Moten said. "I started young. I’m going back to 1972, 1973, and I’ve had the same friends. It’s amazing, but I’ve been friends with these guys for 40-plus years. We’ll get together and talk and reminisce about those days."

Along with his old friends, Moten also always reconnects with his Pop Warner coach, Sam Roper, when he's in Clearwater. 

"He was my coach, I think it was my fourth year playing," Moten said. "At that point, kids are still learning the fundamentals, like learning how to block, learning how to tackle, learning how to throw, learning how to carry the ball and run.

"But Coach Roper told me about the pros and cons of a football career. I grew up in the projects, and he educated me early on that if I wanted to pursue a career in football, if I wanted to go to college, the steps I needed to take. He taught me everything about football and helped me through the years."

Moten listened to Roper's advice. He became a high school star and went on to play linebacker at the University of Florida. In 1987, Moten was selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

But when injuries derailed his NFL career in 1991, Moten was unsure of what to do. He had not finished his degree at UF and didn't have any job prospects. After a several years, he enrolled at Rutgers University and finished his degree in 1995.

Moten worked his way from an intern in the Camden County, NJ prosecutor's office to chief detective for the county. He retired in 2018.

Now, he's focused on ensuring his son's success. R.J. Moten is a sophomore safety at University of Michigan. Like his father, he also started playing when he was in second grade. 

"I signed him up to play, and his mom was OK with it," the elder Moten said. "Football itself came easy to him, but I wanted him to learn the right way to play. So I coached him because I wanted him to learn the fundamentals of the game."

When he was coaching his son's first teams, Moten made sure to emphasize the importance of teamwork. 

"The team concept and the friendships it builds that will last a lifetime," Moten said. "It goes a long way in life. It carried me through my career as a detective. It is so important to work together and know you can count on your teammates, your co-workers, and your partners."

Photo: AP/Mel Evans


  • NFL Players and Legends
  • Youth Football