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Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame: Moyer has 'no complaints' about football life's journey

Jay Moyer, a former Westminster football standout and a 1958 graduate, became the youngest member of the NFL's management team when he was appointed counsel to Commissioner Pete Rozelle at age 32.

Jay Moyer's football career ended late in the final game of his senior season at Westminster High School, the 1957 season finale, when the Owls quarterback suffered a dislocated hip.

Moyer helped Westminster win the game 28-0, its third consecutive shutout to finish the year 8-1-1. He went off to Dartmouth College, but couldn't get healthy enough to play again.

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And it could very well have been the best thing to happen to him.

Moyer went from playing football for a program in rural Maryland few had heard of to a powerful position overseeing the game played at its highest level, with the NFL, for a quarter-century. And now he's headed into the Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018.

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"I had thought that having my hip wrecked with two minutes to go in my last high school game was a bad break," Moyer said. "And then it occurred to me very quickly that it could have happened in the first two minutes of the first game, and my whole life would have been extremely different. So I look on it as a blessing.

"If it had to happen, then it was a blessing that it happened when it did. It set me on a path that led me, after a number of unpredictable steps, to the NFL. So I have no complaints."

Moyer's final season at Westminster was a strong one. He tossed 12 touchdown passes, a team record at the time. Under coach Herb Ruby, the Owls outscored their opponents 270-71 that fall. They pitched five shutouts, and outscored their final three opponents 125-0.

But Moyer's injury marred the senior's successful season. He said he couldn't regain enough strength to get back onto the field, and after two failed attempts Moyer hung up his cleats. His focus shifted to academics, and from Dartmouth he attended law school at Duke University.

Moyer had his choice of job offers upon graduating, so he took one in Cleveland. It was there, he said, that luck found him.

"Just happened to be in the right place at the right time when the NFL was looking for somebody," said Moyer, who was approached by one of his senior partners when the league was looking to add to its front office.

In 1972, Moyer became the youngest member of the NFL's senior management team (an in-house attorney) when he was appointed Counsel to the Commissioner at age 32.

"The NFL was doing … a very quiet nationwide search at that point," Moyer said. "Pete Rozelle, the commissioner, was a master of understatement. He said, 'We could hardly have advertised for this job.'"

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Moyer relocated to New York for his new job, and he recalls being responsible for a wide range of activities. Litigation in the 1970s dealt with everything from players' playing conditions, to antitrust matters, to the beginning of a league-wide drug problem.

Franchise location was a big issue then, Moyer said, with the Oakland Raiders and owner Al Davis leading the charge. Years later, when the Colts left Baltimore for Indianapolis in a similar situation, Moyer said he felt the conflict.

As a high school kid, he said he watched Johnny Unitas lead Baltimore past the New York Giants in the famous 1957 NFL championship game. Now he watched his hometown team slip away to a new city.

"I understood on a business basis why they did it, but as a lifelong Colts fan it broke my heart," Moyer said.

Moyer took a new role in 1984 when he was named executive vice president and league counsel, the NFL's second highest ranking executive. Ten years later, Moyer earned an Award of Excellence from the Sports Lawyers Association.

He retired in 1996 after 25 NFL seasons, because of a bout with cancer, he said, but continues to work part-time as special counsel to the league. The Sports Lawyers Association's website lists Moyer as a board of directors member.

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He lives in New York City, and said he's looking forward to coming home for the Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame ceremony this Friday at Carroll Community College.

This weekend he'll have time to reminisce with family and friends, he said, about an interesting life's journey.

"Interesting is as good a word as any to describe it," Moyer said. "It was unique too."

Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame

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What: Class of 2018 induction ceremony

When: Friday, 6 p.m.

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Where: Carroll Community College

For tickets: For info, call 443-398-0139

pat.stoetzer@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7894

twitter.com/carrollvarsity


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