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Moss' Legacy Will Live On

Dan Ryan
Thursday August 7, 2014


The easiest way to begin a Perry Moss tribute is to envision him and Tim Marcum on opposite sidelines of some celestial gridiron recreating their epic arenaball battles from the 1990s.

Marcum, no doubt, by now has ruffled the wing feathers of some administering angel for words and actions that probably aren’t appropriate for the afterlife. The simple majesty of Moss’ involvement is that after zooming through Spirit World orientation, he already has a coaching gig, literally, at the highest level.

Here’s hoping that the above scenario provided a smile as we once again celebrate the life of a legend while mourning his passing. It seems as of late that if we’re not enshrining those who brought us joy with their accomplishments on the field of play, we’re eulogizing them and accepting their passage as part of a greater plan.

Moss’ vagabond coaching experience and success have been well documented. He was involved in every league but the Justice, finally getting a chance to be a head coach in hometown Orlando after stints with two area failed teams (the Panthers of the 60’s Continental League and the Renegades of the USFL) as well as the hometown college team, UCF. When Moss was asked about launching the Predators in 1991, he’d smile briefly before delving back into coachspeak.

Moss could scare the hell out of you, and that’s a compliment. He could also motivate you to march into hell with two broken legs. He knew football, and for our niche sport, he knew what rules needed to be implemented to make the fledgling game go.

That first year or so, the Predators weren’t the “Orlando Predators” as we know. It was kind of like the first season of Star Trek when they were still fleshing out Spock and Sulu and other details like Starfleet and the difference between a phaser and a photon torpedo. Still, there were moments - like that first victory over Tampa Bay, who started Peter Tom Willis over some guy named Gooden or that Gruden guy who is coaching some football team in Washington, or keeping Major Harris in check for the first home win.

Then Moss reluctantly dumped fellow USFL refugee Reggie Collier in favor of Ben Bennett. Some guys named Wagner and Walls came in. Then a nasty defensive line. The result was a lot of Friday/Saturday nights in the Jungle with Orlando up 8,000 to 6 or 7 in the third quarter as the bacchanal in the stands reached epic proportions.

We do a lot of talk of legacies in articles like these. The great ones pretty much write themselves, it’s just up to us to tell the story with the respect it deserves. Sometimes, it goes beyond.

Moss gave way to that Gooden, Gruden, whatever guy, who gave way to Fran Papasedero (who we hope is on one of those heavenly sidelines as a coordinator) and the 400 or so coaches the Predators have had since. He laid the foundation and deserves the credit for time and all eternity for one simple, undeniable truth:

The Orlando Predators are the Green Bay Packers of Arena Football.*

It’s something we feel. Something we believe. It’s strong enough that it caused sadness when it appeared the Preds may have been going the way of the Chicago Rush or Utah Blaze and one that provides hope with the incoming ownership of David Siegel.

Moss leaves another important legacy, perhaps the most important: Father. Maybe it’s because we were all there at the beginning, and we’re little more than passing acquaintances, but Les Moss is one of the best people you will ever meet. The rare times I go to Jacksonville anymore is highlighted by the simple opportunity to shake his hand and visit with him a moment both before and after the game. Oh yeah, he has a ring. Keeping the Moss legacy going while creating his own path. It’s all you can ask. Perry did a great coaching job.

It’s so tough to imagine what Les has gone through lately, watching disease and time destroy the body of the strongest man he knew. But here’s hoping that a smile comes to his face as he remembers the incredible life of an incredible man and that it’s his time and turn to continue a legacy.

There’s that scene in Iron Man 2 where Tony Stark’s dad tells him via the old movie projector that he knows he’ll one day Tony will succeed where he couldn’t and actually do greater things. As sad as it is to say goodbye, there’s a life to celebrate and let’s face it, that day Howard Stark saw for Tony has come for many of us. Heck, that Gooden, Gruden, whatever guy and a few other arena refugees are now coaching in the NFL or for national college champions.

So, let’s make the most of this time. Meanwhile, Marcum and Moss probably have one hell of a game going right now. That should make all of us smile.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For all those who want to debate if the Tampa Bay Storm or the Orlando Predators are the Green Bay Packers or Chicago Bears of arena football, take it to the message board. We know all the championships numbers, and you probably do also. Since it involves the contributions of both Marcum and Moss, it's actually a worthy subject.


 
Dan Ryan has been involved with all forms of arena football since 1988, including writing for ArenaFan when Joe Kauffman and Tim Capper aren’t killing his columns because they don’t get his jokes or perspective. His day job is at Bethune-Cookman University, which has produced both an NFL Hall of Famer (Larry Little) and an Arena Football Hall of Famer (Stevie Thomas) and his hobby is tracking how many f-bombs Adam Markowitz drops in the chat room on game nights.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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