"When I was cut here seven years ago," Mark Moseley said today, recalling the bad times that make the good times even better, "I had $40 to my name, a car and some things my wife and I could fit into a U-Haul.
"We were 2,000 miles from home" - home being Texas - "and we drove from here through a hurricane so I could get to New Orleans for a tryout with the Saints. But that didn't work out either."
Any sensible fellow immediately would have gotten into a stable profession. Moseley is a kicker, and you know what everyone whispers about that breed: they put their minds into every kick. Moseley continues:
"Two weeks later I got a call from the Oilers and I kicked for them a year and two games, I'd kicked two field goals and four kickoffs out of the end zone the game before and I was in the parking lot that Tuesday when the coach (Bill Petersen) drove up.
"I was eating a candy bar, I remember, and he walked over to me. Didn't even say good morning. All he said was: "Well, I waived you this morning.' I asked him why and he said: "I had a dream last night and I cut you."
"So then I peddled dirt" - that's kicker talk for selling real estate - "two years and tried to stay in shape. I wrote every team and called them - and finally the Redskins called back and asked if I'd like to try out again."
And the rest, as they say in the trade, has been between the uprights. Like yesterday, he kicked the longest official field goal of his life, a 54-yarder that lifted the Redskins to a 17-14 victory over his former team.
Moseley had missed two earlier efforts, a 47-yarder that resembled an off-line knuckle ball and a 40-yarder that seemed long enough and true enough until the most fickle of winds made it miss. Then came what is beginning to resemble a ritual - a happy one.
The Redskin offense stalls far enough from the end zone so coach George Allen must fret about whether to punt or unfetter Moseley. There is considerable risk, because a miss gives the oppostion dandy field position. Usually, Allen leaves the decision to Moseley, the dialogue being something like:
"Can you make it?"
"Sure, let's try."
Not quite Son of Son of Godfather stuff, to be sure. But Moseley had made four of six tries of more than 50 yards this season. And, he is quick to add, another that Allen took off the board when he opted for a penalty against the Eagles in RFK Stadium.
When the Eagles cut Moseley shortly after the final exhibition in 1971, it involved more than dashing the dreams of a young Texan who had been frustrated with injuries and sour luck his first NFL season.
Because of a combination of tendinitis and misses in 1970, Moseley sensed his brief career was in jeopardy when the Eagles drafted Happy Feller in the fourth round of the '71 draft. They passed over a young quarterback named Joe Theismann - and fans with memories keep reminding the Eagles of that.
"Happy has more ice water in his veins," the Eagles said when they cut Moseley.
Feller, we understand, is now a telephone repairman in Texas.
And Moseley was the happy feller in Philly today.
"I had the wind behind me," Moseley said of his winning kick, "but you never really know what to expect when the wind acts up like that."
Also, Moseley sensed Horst Muhlmann would miss that 31-yarder with 22 seconds left in the game before the most negative-minded Eagle fan.
"I watched him warm up going that way," Moseley said, "and I knew he was having a bad day. He missed seven or eight in a row from that direction. And they ran that sweep right to set up his kick, because soccer-type kickers hook the ball."
And poor Muhlmann hooked the ball worse than Ben Crenshaw, although his holder, Roman Gabriel, argued the kick was good. Surprisingly, Gabe made it off the field without a cane and collie.
Moseley's day would not be complete without someone arguing that his right shoe must be loaded with lead, and Frank LeMaster was the obliging Eagle.
"I'd like to know what was in his boot," LeMaster said. "I hear they take him in the training room and lock him in (so no one can inspect his shoe)."
Moseley said, one of the Eagle legends, Chuck Bednarik, inspected the shoe during a friendly chat before the game, nothing at all like the nasty tricks the Cowboys use to psyche him in Dallas.
So, fate was with Moseley here, a fact Jean Fugett realized during that Redskin time-out that gave Muhlmann more than time to think.
"It was a swirling sort of wind," Fugett said, "and when we called time it was behind him. Funny thing, when play began agian the wind all of a sudden changed, hit him smack in the face. It was almost like a sign."