September 2, 2011 / 11:46 PM / 6 years ago

Alabama man, 61, earns spot as college football kicker

BIRMINGHAM, Ala (Reuters) - When the recession booted Alan Moore out of a 37-year career in civil construction, he kicked back -- by becoming a kicker for an Alabama college football team at age 61.

On Saturday, Moore, affectionately referred to as "Pops" by his Faulkner University teammates, will get his first chance to kick in public for the small Christian school during a squad scrimmage in Montgomery. Four of his five grandchildren will be there to watch.

"I came back to play football," he told Reuters. "I know I can do it."

Back in his glory year of 1968, Moore kicked for a national title for Holmes Community College in Goodman, Mississippi. He had taken up the position in high school, thrilling his mother by kicking an extra point. The late Agnes Moore called it "the prettiest play she had ever seen."

"My momma wanted me to kick a football," he said.

But Moore's football career ended early in 1969 with the Vietnam War draft looming over his head. He and a buddy joined the Army thinking they could choose where they served.

Instead, he spent 10 months in a bunker, and his buddy was shot and paralyzed. Moore came home to work and raise a family, with college by then a distant dream.

He started practicing football again after he was laid off in 2009.

"When I walked into Dick's Sporting Goods store, it was the first football I had touched in 40 years," Moore said.

While his contemporaries laughed, he gained enough skill to receive interest from three colleges, he said. He chose Faulkner, which gave him a small football scholarship, because "they made me feel like family." The school has 830 undergraduates in Montgomery as well as a law school and adult students, according to its website.

It wasn't really the football career Moore said he was looking to finish. Instead, he decided to return to college and the game to inspire young people to never give up.

"It is not about me, it is about we, and I know I can motivate kids," said Moore, who is taking 12 hours of courses and living in a dormitory.

His teammates are teaching him, too. Moore said he can now text with two thumbs, far from the days when "you had to have a pocket full of quarters to communicate."

But on the field, he is strictly old-school, kicking the football straight-on with his toes rather than soccer style.

"They didn't even sell soccer balls when I played in 1968," he said.

Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune

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