Former England and British Lions rugby union hooker, Brian Moore, joined Nat Coombs and Mike Carson on the sofa for Channel 4’s ‘American Football Live’ clash between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins early this morning.
The 51-year-old former World Rugby World Player of the Year won 64 caps for England, played at three World Cups and represented the Lions in 1989 and 1992. He is now a respected sports journalist, commentator and author.
Alongside his sporting career and was normal back in the days before the professionalisation of rugby union, Moore had another career, as a professionally trained and successful litigation solicitor and lawyer, and has been consulted as an expert witness in several high profile rugby injury cases. Moore is also a professionally trained nail manicurist.
Moore was with Nat and Mike for nearly the whole show, but left with six minutes left in the fourth with the scores at 21-17, due to ‘other broadcasting commitments’. The Giants went on to win 24-17.
Part 1 of this article features Brian Moore talking about the match and particularly Robert Griffin III, whilst Part 2 features his interesting thoughts about the similarities and differences between rugby union and American Football.
Nat Coombs: What do you think about this season for Robert Griffin III compared to last season?
Brian Moore: RGIII was never going to have the same season again because when you’re new you can do a lot of video analysis and learn a lot about players, but you actually have to go and play against them to understand how they work and how they put things together and obviously now he has had one season.
The (Redskins) secondary has not helped; he’s been injured and the fact is people are targeting him now; he’s had late shots, cheap shots, head shots, so they’ve specifically been giving him a work over and that’s been specifically combined to have a very poor season really.
Nat Coombs: Does the fact that RGIII has such a visibly injured knee make him an obvious target?
Brian Moore: If you’re going to put a protector on your knee or ACL then you might as well put a target on you – because everyone knows where to go.
Nat Coombs: By playing with such an injury and with his season gone, does RGIII create more pressure on himself and team?
Brian Moore: He’s not surrounded; you usually have a spine of a team with decision makers here and there and if you’re having a bad time they take pressure off of you because they assume responsibility and he’s not got that either.
Nat Coombs: Should he be playing?
Brian Moore: There’s no point in him picking up an injury unnecessarily, because he’s had to come back from injury twice and whilst knee surgery is a lot better than it used to be, it is still a very unstable joint.
You have to build it back up and the grafts don’t necessarily take all the time and sometimes they break.
Players are the last people you should talk to about injuries and concussion because they will always play.
When you balance the two together, it says to me that his knee is definitely suspect, at the moment, because that natural competitiveness, when you’ve got space in front of you, you would want to go, the fact that he didn’t, suggests to me he knows he cannot make that cut.
Nat Coombs: Is it difficult for the Redskins veterans to respect RGIII?
Brian Moore: Yes, I think it is. If they produce the results then, obviously, it’s easier, but when things start going wrong, it’s a natural thing to do.
As a professional it’s not the way it should be but it is a natural inclination because you’re wondering whether they’ve got the…especially if you’re a quarterback too because they’re meant to be a leader, especially if that isn’t working, then it’s the first thing you pick off. It may not be right but that’s the way it goes.
When you debrief things you only get anywhere if you’re honest. You cannot do that. It’s a basic management issue, don’t ask people to do things that you’re not prepared to do. If you’re going to highlight other people’s mistakes then don’t hide yours.
Nat Coombs: RGIII wants to do it all though…
Brian Moore: It comes down to self-belief. If you look at him last season when he was really fit, that acceleration starts on step one and now it is taking him time to wind up.
If you have success like they did, when he ran, they look to it more and when it falls down, whereas Russell Wilson has other options so they are not just relying on that.
Nat Coombs: (With 11:50 remaining in the third and the scores at 14-14) The Giants’ pass-rush has been non-existent tonight…
Brian Moore: It’s strange though because, initially, all the intensity – offensively and defensively came from the Redskins – and that has changed around to a large extent and I am just wondering whether that is just mental or a reflection of the fact that are picking better plays.
I thought, at the beginning, because of the intensity and the momentum that Washington were going to run away with this and the Giants have managed to reverse that and this will be…momentum is a tangible thing and this is a very practical manifestation of this.
Nat Coombs: How would you have got on with (New York Giants’ Head Coach) Tom Coughlin?
Brian Moore: I think I would have been a good professional. I would have hopefully been honest and tried to give him as little opportunity to say anything to me as possible.
Nat Coombs: On a side note, what do you think of the New England Patriots this season?
Brian Moore: They look fragile still, the consistency isn’t there and if you look through the team…in that period when they were dominant it was a bit like the All Blacks now; you looked at relative strengths not where there were any weaknesses and this is not the case with this team now.