With Peyton Manning under center, the Indianapolis Colts offense of the 2000s changed football. The modern passing era was jumpstarted by Manning and the Colts, and their record-setting unit will go down as one of the best of all-time. Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, Jeff Saturday, and others headlined the unit, but behind the scenes, offensive coordinator Tom Moore was just as influential.
For his achievements in the NFL, Moore was chosen as one of the three recipients of the Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman Award this year, an award that is voted on by the Pro Football Writers of America and is given for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL. Joining Moore as this year's recipients are Dick LeBeau (the former Steelers defensive coordinator and current Titans assistant head coach) and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia (the former Patriots assistant coach). This is the second year of the award being given out, and last year another former Colts' assistant during the Manning era, former offensive line coach Howard Mudd, was among those honored.
Moore is entering his third season with the Arizona Cardinals as their assistant head coach, a role which he accepted when Bruce Arians, who worked with Moore in Indianapolis from 1998-2000, accepted the head coaching position. Moore has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers (wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator), the Minnesota Vikings (assistant head coach), the Detroit Lions (offensive coordinator), the New Orleans Saints (running backs coach), the New York Jets (offensive consultant), and Tennessee Titans (offensive consultant) in his 37 years as an assistant coach in the NFL, but he is most known for his time with the Colts.
From 1998-2010, Moore was an integral part of the Colts staff, serving most of the time as the offensive coordinator (1998-2008) and the latter few years as a senior assistant (basically retaining much of his same role while the Colts essentially tried to phase him out and transition). In other words, for every single game in which Peyton Manning played on the field for the Colts, Moore was his coach. And together, the two of them put together one of the most successful offensive runs in NFL history. Manning completed 64.9% of his passes for 54,828 yards and 399 touchdowns, shattering nearly every significant franchise passing record. Manning won four league MVP awards (the most all-time) while the Colts had the winningest decade in NFL history, won eight division titles, made eleven playoff appearances, won two AFC Championships, and won Super Bowl XLI.
"There's no question we were together for a long time; we're very compatible," Moore told NFL.com's Judy Battista last season before his Cardinals met Manning's Broncos for a regular season game. "He made me a better coach and we worked hard together for the ultimate dream to win. We had a good run. I'm indebted to him because the things he did and how we worked together, it was a fun experience. You had to be prepared to answer his question. There was no easing off on anything and that's good. That's the way it should be. That's what a coach's job is, to make sure the player has an opportunity to succeed."
Manning has expressed similar sentiments about Moore. "I'll be indebted for the rest of my life for what he has done for my career," Manning said back in 2010 while still with the Colts. "I don't know if there will ever be an assistant coach in the Hall of Fame, but if there is, Tom Moore has got to be the first one in."
I hope that Tom Moore does indeed get into the Hall of Fame one day, but whether or not that happens, it's great to see him honored with this lifetime achievement award. If there's anyone deserving of the award, it's certainly Tom Moore - a man who was behind the scenes but who played a key role in the Colts' dominant offense of the 2000s.