He was 88.
Here's a column I wrote about Moss a few days ago ...
Perry Moss stalked the sidelines in a hundred different leagues for a thousand different teams during a coaching career that seemingly spanned a million different seasons.
As you might expect, this coaching institution wanted to call the final play of his life.
He wanted the feeding tube that was keeping him alive to be removed.
His son, Les Moss, a career coach in his own right, understood the call and executed the play just like his father taught him all those years ago. And as the dad lay on his death bed, his body ravaged by an incurable and debilitating neuromuscular disorder, the son held his dad's hand, cried and said, "The game's over now, Coach. It's OK to take a knee."
That's right, his own son calls him "Coach."
That's who Perry Moss was — "Coach." That's who he was, is and always will be to the thousands of athletes he pushed, prodded and preached to during a career that spanned 50 years, stretched through seven different decades and included coaching stops at UCF, Florida State and the Orlando Predators.
Perry Moss, with his 88th birthday approaching on Monday, will pass away in the next few days, and at the memorial service, oh the stories they will tell … the stories of a man who was a salty, crusty coaching vagabond who will no doubt be buried with a whistle around his neck and arrive at the pearly gates as the new offensive coordinator of the newly formed HFL (Heavenly Football League).
I never knew Perry Moss, and now that makes me sad because I will never get to hear him tell those stories himself. He coached in Orlando before I moved to town as a sports columnist. To me, he was always just a name in the "briefs" section of my local newspaper. … "Perry Moss is named the head coach of the Detroit Drive. … Perry Moss is named the head coach of the Chicago Bruisers … Perry Moss is named offensive coordinator of the Orlando Renegades."
In pro football, he coached in the National Football League, the United States Football League, the World Football League, the European Football League and the American Football Association. And if you're scoring at home, he also coached in two AFLs (the American Football League and the Arena Football League) and two CFLs (the Canadian Football League and the Continental Football League).
"I've not missed any leagues; at least none of the ones I have heard of," Perry once said. "I've always been able to find a job and I've always been able to do what I've wanted to do since high school, and that's being a football coach."
In college football, he was an assistant coach at UCF, Miami, LSU, Washington and Wisconsin and head coach at both Florida State and Marshall. According to son Les, Perry's biggest regret was leaving as FSU's head coach after only one season in 1959 to become the head coach and general manager of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes.
"In those days, the CFL was much more lucrative than FSU," Les says.
See why I'm sad I never had the chance to talk to this grid-iron globetrotter? He was a walking, talking football history book who saw it all. He coached with or against Bear Bryant and Don Shula. He spanned the globe following the crazy career bounces of an oblong ball, but he made his home right here in Orlando. He was a hidden jewel in our midst — a pioneer and an adventurer who traveled the country in search of the buried football treasure sure to be hidden in some start-up alphabet league in Albuquerque or Allentown.
Did you know he was the first college football player to ever lead two teams to New Year's Day bowl victories when it actually meant something to play on New Year's Day? He was the starting tailback when Tulsa won the 1945 Orange Bowl and — after a two-year stint in the military — he started at quarterback for Illinois' 1947 Rose Bowl victory over UCLA.
Did you know he was one of the founding fathers of the Arena Football League and actually was instrumental in inventing the rules of the indoor game?
Did you know he coached four different Orlando teams, including head-coaching stops with the Predators and Panthers (Continental Football League) and assistant stints with the Renegades (USFL) and UCF?
Les Moss attended 11 different elementary schools while his father hop-scotched from job to job, and Perry tried his best to dissuade Les from following in his footsteps. It was no use. Les is now the head coach of the Arena League's Jacksonville Sharks.
As the intravenous feeding tube was removed Friday, Les wanted to say one last thing to his father:
"Don't worry, Coach, we're going to be on the same staff again someday."
On another team.
At another time.
In another life.
For now, though, it's time to run out the clock.
If anybody deserves to take a knee, it's Perry Moss.