To be human is to dream. Every kid has dreams and hopes of one day achieving them. Emphatic wishes are what make us all human. We desire something monumental.
For Anthony Moore, his dream was to play professional football at the highest level, the National Football League. What happens when those dreams are shattered? How does anyone survive and move on when their dreams are broken?
After a promising freshman season as a defensive back at Baylor University, Moore shattered his tibia and fibula in a spring scrimmage before his sophomore campaign. The injury derailed Moore’s football career and required five surgeries to fix.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound safety from Judson High School in Converse, had all the makings of a future star.
With 169 tackles in his junior season in high school and a state title game appearance, Moore felt the next step after high school would be playing college football.
During his senior year, Moore received scholarship offers from various schools, including Mississippi State, Texas State and Northern Illinois.
The main reason he made the decision to attend Baylor was because of head coach Art Briles.
“With Coach Briles, it’s not always about football,” Moore said. Briles was more interested in knowing the players on a more personal level.
“He wasn’t interested in trying to sell me the school. He just sat down and had a regular conversation with me.”
When Moore arrived at Baylor, Briles was still in the process of revamping the state of the football program and Briles wanted him to be part of that process.
Because of his natural athletic ability, Moore received playing time in the first game of his freshman year.
“When we went to Wake Forest and coach called my name to go into the game, I was shocked,” Moore said. True freshmen rarely get the opportunity to play at all, so to play that early in his career was a major accomplishment.
“When they recruited me, they told me I had a good chance of playing as a freshman, but I didn’t think it would be that soon.”
Going into the offseason to start his sophomore year, Moore says he was ready for a breakout season. He was in a position battle to try to win the starting safety position in spring practice.
Moore admits to dreaming of lofty goals, like an NFL career.
“I wanted to have a great offseason to get me ready for the next season. I felt like Byron Landor and me were both battling for the position,” Moore said.
It was during this offseason at spring practice that Moore’s football career and his dreams playing in the NFL would come to a screeching halt.
As Moore backpedaled and started to switch directions to go tackle tight end Jerod Monk, he planted his left foot and began to accelerate forward.
“I knew right when the injury happened that it was bad,” Moore said.
Baylor’s athletic trainers rushed out to Moore and put a wrap on his leg. With such a severe injury, Moore was rushed to the emergency room immediately.
“The doctor said I broke both the tibia and fibula in my leg and that the whole middle part was just shattered,” Moore said.
After one week in the hospital, Moore had three surgeries due to complications from Compartment Syndrome that developed after his injury. Moore had five surgeries in total in an attempt to completely fix his leg. He still has a permanent metal rod in his leg.
Although the physical toll the injury had on Moore’s life was devastating, the psychological and emotional toll of the injury was the most difficult aspect to handle. Moore thought he may never be able to play football again.
“I asked the doctor if there was any chance of me playing football again,” Moore said. Once the doctor said yes, he knew right then he wasn’t going to stop until he got back on the field.
The rehab process was immensely challenging and discouraging at times, but when Moore felt as though he was almost done with rehab, doctors would come back and tell him he needed another surgery.
“I would get closer and closer to getting back on the field and then find out I had to have another surgery over and over again,” Moore said.
The only reason he made it through this trying time in life was because family and friends constantly surrounded him for support. He also relied on his strong faith in God.
“I kept the faith that God had a plan and a purpose for my life,” Moore said.
One of the chief motivations for getting back on the field was to silence the many critics who did not believe he could ever overcome such an obstacle.
Through hard work and a determined spirit that wouldn’t let him quit, Moore was healthy enough to conquer winter workouts in 2012 and to participate in spring practice.
Moore accomplished his goal of getting back onto the football field. Through grit and determination, Moore overcame a devastating injury both physically and psychologically.
After two years of watching Moore battle through rehabilitation, Briles had a heart-to-heart conversation with Moore that would ultimately close the football chapter of his life.
“I sat down and talked to Briles, and he put it to me straight forward about how he didn’t want to see me go through that pain again, considering everything I had been through,” Moore said.
With much prayer and guidance, Moore decided to stop playing football, but to still be around the game by being a student assistant coach for Baylor. For Moore, football will always have a special place in his life.
“I see myself doing it in the future because I want to stay around football and I feel like I can impact people’s lives just from my story and what I’ve been through,” Moore said.
Making the decision to stop playing football and go into coaching was one of the hardest decisions he has ever had to make.
“That was a very hard time in my life since I still talked to a lot of the same people I played with, and they would tell me about what was going on in the football world,” Moore said. He often felt disconnected, but his mom encouraged him with uplifting Bible scriptures to get him out of the slump.
When Moore made the decision to participate in spring practice in 2012, he felt as though he still had something to prove to himself.
“People told me I wouldn’t be able to do it and I didn’t want to quit anything until I actually see for myself that I can’t do it,” Moore said.
Despite the injury that in the end would crush Moore’s dreams of going to the NFL, Moore has grown from the experience.
“Don’t take anything for granted because you never know when or if something can be taken away from you in an instant,” Moore said. The only way he endured through it all was his faith in the Lord and knowing that God had a plan for him.
Football will always be a part of his life, no matter what he decides to do after college.
“I feel like I can steer players in the right direction,” Moore said. “It’s a great sport with a lot of lessons, and I just love everything about it.”
Written by Daniel Hill
Photography by Matt Hellman