Draft Memories: Mercury Morris And Nat Moore

Posted Apr 19, 2012

With the 2012 NFL Draft just a week away, there is a lot of anticipation among the crop of college football players hoping to hear their name called by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. It’s a moment these young men have dreaming about since they were little kids.

Leading up to the Draft, will be reminiscing with some of your favorite former Miami Dolphins about their draft day experiences. Today we catch up with Mercury Morris, running back, selected in the third round (63rd overall) of the 1969 NFL Draft out of West Texas A&M, and Nat Moore, wide receiver, selected in the third round (78th overall) of the 1974 NFL Draft out of Florida.

What stands out to you the most from your Draft Day experience?

Mercury Morris: “The fact that I didn’t get the call until Day 2. That was the bad news because I thought I was going to go in the first or second round. I went in the third round because the Dolphins were drafting linemen. They drafted Bob Heinz ahead of me and I was a third-round draft pick. I finished ninth in the balloting for the Heisman that year, Juice (O.J. Simpson) finished first, but at that time running backs were not 5-10, 185 pounds, they were 6-2, 215 like Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung, which is the same as (Larry) Csonka and (Jim) Kiick, so it was an uphill battle from the beginning. But knowing that I got drafted by the Dolphins, I watched Super Bowl III and I was there when Shula lost to the Jets in that game and Earl (Morrall) was there so it was kind of like the karma was coming around. Little did I know that would be my office for the next six years playing for the Dolphins.”

Nat Moore: “I thought I was going to be a Cowboy. I was being chaperoned and entertained by a Cowboy scout to make sure I didn’t sign with the World Football League before the draft. Ironically, the one team that I didn’t talk to the whole time was the team that drafted me, which was the Dolphins in the third round.”

Where were you on Draft Day?

Morris: “I was in Canyon, Texas, where I went to school at West Texas. I was just running around in my Corvette I had bought ahead of time.”

Moore: “I was in Gainesville at my apartment. I was still in school. Back in those days you could stay in school and come in and go through the minicamp and then you finished up in June and then you came back in late July.”

What did you personally do in preparation for the draft to help your draft position?

Morris: “We didn’t have any of the stuff they do now. Are you kidding me? You were drafted out of college, literally. It wasn’t like somebody was waiting for you to see what your skills were. They already had a look at what your skills were when you got drafted. Joe Robbie drafted me. He liked the way that I ran and he liked my name. Those were the reasons why I’m here.”

Moore: “Nothing. I mean if I could play football then I could play football. If you didn’t look at the tapes and say, ‘Hmm, I think he can play,’ then I don’t know anything else I was going to do because I was doing that against the top competition in the SEC, the University of Miami and Florida State. I don’t think I could have shown anything I didn’t show already. If I went through college and proved I could play then going to all of these different camps, what’s it going to change? I’m not a big proponent of that. I think that sometimes because they go and they do that, they go through testing very well at the Combine, guys move up that are not players and then in the end teams get burned by that.”

Was there something about your interviews with prospective coaches before the draft that stood out?

Morris: “No, none of that stuff. It was a business. They saw us on film and that was it. No interviews.”

Moore: “No, not really. I don’t even know what a Wonderlic test is. They checked out my health and talked to me about whether I’d be a wide receiver or a running back because I had been a running back and basically that was pretty much it.”

How did you celebrate being drafted?

Morris: “It was different then because you were just glad to be on a team and it wasn’t so much a celebration but that part of it is over now and now you’re going to the next level. These guys have a gigantic celebration about it but us, it was just like, ‘Hey, now you’re on the team. Get to work.’ They brought us down here I think somewhere in February of that year of 1969 and Heinz and myself and the first five draft choices, we came down here and they introduced us to George Wilson and the whole nine yards.”

Moore: “I don’t remember doing anything special, other than kicking the guy out in Dallas.”

What was it like to know you were going to be drafted by the Dolphins?

Moore: “It was exciting knowing I was coming home. Larry Little, he’s a little bit older than me and I grew up admiring him when he was at Booker T. Washington. The chance to come home and play in front of my family and people I know and love, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

What advice would you give to this year’s class of draft choices?

Morris: “Once you get here make the game plan each week the most important thing and not yourself. When a guy says, ‘Yeah, I’ve got my A game today,’ well, if you’ve got it today you’re supposed to have it Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then you’re just showing up to put you’re A game on the field. When you come with you’re A game on Sunday then that’s you’re A game Sunday, but you’re preparation and what you do Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, that’s what wins games. We never won a game on Sunday. We always had a test and to see if we passed our test based on what you did Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So it didn’t matter who you played, it only mattered how you prepared. In the words of John Wooden, don’t confuse activity with achievement because you haven’t done anything yet.”

Moore: “The first thing is as soon as you can get that playbook, bury your nose in it. This is what you’ve worked for your whole life, and the only way you can really compete for a job is you’ve got to know what to do. Once you know what to do it allows you to turn loose your athletic ability. If you don’t you’re thinking and if you’re thinking the play’s over.”

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