With a stingy, improved defense under the direction of new defensive coordinator Lonnie Messick, and with Mark Ryhanych rifling passes to David Hughes, the Generals jumped out to a 3-0 start their second season.
Then came a moment of real concern. The Richmond Ravens had knocked Hughes, the Generals’ best wide receiver, out of the game. And with a former high school kicker struggling with his confidence and missing extra points and field goals, the Generals lost 27-26. They had a bye week to regroup and address their holes.
From his broadcasting days, King had struck up a peripheral friendship with Mark Moseley, one of his athletic heroes as a child. In the two weeks before the next game, he asked Moseley to come out to practice and give the potential kickers pointers. Five minutes into Moseley’s instruction, the salesman in King began percolating.
“Hey, you know you could still kick,” he told Moseley.
Moseley wasn’t sure if King was joking “or if he was trying to feel me out to see whether he knew I was seriously considering it, because he knew that would be a draw to the team if I did come out and play.”
Moseley started attending practices, where he watched field-goal attempts sail wide left and right of the goal post. King kept pressing him. In the same way he had spun wondrous tales of a return to football glory in the players’ living rooms, he started telling the team he believed Moseley would play.
“Yeah, Mark Moseley, a former NFL MVP, is going to play for a minor league football team in Fredericksburg,” Hughes recalls thinking. “We all looked at each other, like, ‘Sure, Jamie, he’ll probably suit up next week for us.’ ”
The American Football Association, which now oversees more than 500 semi-pro teams, lists several NFL players as having played minor league football at one point in their life. It does not list the only player who competed after his NFL career had ended.
“Once I set the record [for consecutive field goals in 1982] and did what I did, everyone after that expected me to do that every year,” says Moseley, now 63. “I hit 97 percent of my kicks that year. There was never a kicker nominated for MVP finalist ever before until that time, and for me to get nominated and to end up winning it was unbelievable.
“So after I retired I wanted — I needed — to get back.”
Days before the next Generals game, Moseley made up his mind. He would be the team’s place kicker. On one condition: that he be allowed to use the same, single-bar face mask helmet he wore with the Redskins.
But that posed a problem. The Generals’ colors were blue and gray, in homage to both sides in the Civil War, with silver stars on the helmets.
“Cowboys colors?” he says, shaking his head at the idea of looking like the Redskins’ arch rivals. So the single-bar face mask was left gold, and Moseley became a crowd draw. At a high school stadium in Hampton Roads, Va., nearly 5,000 fans showed up; many brought their Redskins jerseys and paraphernalia to be signed. “Mark would get off the bus and sign autographs, and we would just marvel at how many people still cared and came to see him kick,” King says.