Rich Moran's Love of Football Helped Take Him from Neighborhood Games to the NFL
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.
Rich Moran grew up in a football family — and a football neighborhood.
Rich’s father, James, played defensive line for the New York Giants in the mid-60s. When the Moran family moved to Pleasanton, California after James retired from the NFL, their neighbor was a guy named John Madden, who had just retired as head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
"I grew up with (Madden’s) sons," Moran said. "We all played football together. He would come out to our practices the year after he retired and before he got into broadcasting."
The NFL connections payed off for Rich and his older brother, Eric. Both went on to have NFL careers as offensive linemen.
Rich credits his experience in youth sports with setting him on a path to being a starter and All-Pro in the league.
“I grew up playing football, but I grew up playing all sports, football, basketball, wrestling,’’ Moran said. “We didn’t specialize. If you were a physical kid, you liked to play sports, that’s what we did. We didn’t have video games back then. It was active youth. Everybody played sports."
Moran started playing football in the fourth grade, first in the Pleasanton Junior Football League and then in Pop Warner.
“It was fun,’’ he said, “That was the big thing for me — it was fun playing football."
Moran went onto Foothill High School where he was teammates with another future NFL star, Keith Millard.
As a freshman, he was 5-foot-7, 130 pounds. By his senior year he was 6-2, 220. Moran ultimately reached a playing height and weight of 6-3 and 275 pounds in the NFL.
“I just started eating a lot,’’ he said.
Moran earned a scholarship to San Diego State out of Foothill High and was selected in the third round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. He went on to play guard for nine years with the Packers (1985-93), and was All-Pro in 1989.
After his career ended he became a sports agent, but also coached high school football at powerful Oceanside High in Oceanside, California, about 35 miles outside of San Diego. He currently is the offensive line coach at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas.
"At Tyler, I love it because it’s a bunch of kids who are really trying to go Division I and giving it all they can," Moran said. "It really is a lot of fun."
In his time as a player, an agent, and now a coach, he emphasizes safe techniques with his players.
“I coached on the high school level and now at a junior college," Moran said. "I teach my linemen boxing techniques, so that they’re not hitting with their head.’’
Moran seems to have found his niche on the sidelines teaching the game that has been a part of him for close to 50 years now.
“I love it, I really do,’’ he said of being a coach. “On the high school level, I told the kids they’re all starters. Whatever role they had, they were the starter. That, and just be the best you can be.
"But what is your plan? What do you have to do to be the best you can be? If you want to be 70 percent better, it might be 30 percent of looking at film, 20 percent of what you eat and another 20 percent is your habits."
Photo Credit: AP/Paul Spinelli
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