In the football world, wearing the black and gold can be compared to garnering a badge of honor. An honor free agent running back Mewelde Moore proudly holds in high regard as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Other than having the privilege to play for the Steelers and having a successful career in the NFL, Moore appreciates another opportunity, which is far more important than playing football at the highest level in the world—being hands-on, impacting the lives of children.
In 2007, Moore established “The Mewelde Moore Knowledge First Foundation.” The Louisiana native is passionate about influencing the lives of young men between the ages of 10 and 18 in the Baton Rouge area and inspires to expand his foundation abroad. The Foundation’s mission is to provide resources to achieve success in education, life and sports.
“Our mission is to be able to provide opportunities for our youth through sports and education,” Moore said via phone conversation last February. “We typically focus on reading literacy and financial literacy. It has been a process to be at a point where we are now, which is getting our financial literacy program going.
“Our biggest thing right now is getting our parents to realize what is going on in society as we are starting seminars for them,” he continued. “From there, we will continue to grow our program as we put our attention back on our kids.”
Many NFL players have established effective foundations and football camps. Fortunately, professional athletes, such as Moore, have the heart and are blessed to be in a situation where they can help change and improve children’s lives.
Recreation and Park Services is a benefit to children, especially in the inner city, in a major way, as these outlets help provide safety, discipline and social needs. Nevertheless, these services across the nation have taken a hit, due to local budget cuts.
For whatever reason, local governments across the country either eliminate or limit the availability of recreation centers. According to a nationwide study, it appears that the main reason why recreation centers in America are being wiped out is due to the lack of profit these outputs generate—just about two percent.
Thanks to Moore, hundreds of young individuals in the Baton Rouge area are able to have an outlet for a period. Yes, Moore’s foundation is a business (non-profit), but it is an investment—an investment which will be life-changing, and the Super Bowl champion is fully invested in the children.
“I’m very happy about this (the foundation), I look forward to this as it continues to grow,” said Moore with sounds of kids' laughter in the background. “I’m focused on doing this for a lifetime, not just doing this as a fly by night thing, saying, ‘I’ve done that.’ For me, this is a lifetime effort. I’m going to push this foundation for all communities. This is a vision that God granted me with.”
This will be a special year for Moore and his foundation, as he collaborated with the American Diabetes Association and is preparing for his first annual Charity Golf Tournament—assisted by his normal cast of NFL brothers.
“Man, I get players from all over,” said Moore with excitement. “Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis, Ryan Clark, Rashard Mendenhall (all with the Steelers), Corey Webster (defensive back with the New York Giants), Michael Clayton (wide receiver of the Giants), Tracy Porter (defensive back for the New Orleans Saints), Justin Vincent, and Randall Gay. We have a lot of people that come in and help us out and do a lot of things at the camp.
“This year, we will have our football camp (March 17) and a charity golf tournament (March 19), as we are partnered with American Diabetes Association,” he added.
Stating this year, the football camp has been extended to young ladies between the ages of 11 and 17 for cheerleading.
Moore, 29, is a solid athlete. The San Diego Padres selected Moore in the fourth round in 2000. He spent three summers in the organization’s camp while attending Tulane University. Moreover, the 5-11, 209-pound ball carrier was a fourth-round selection by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2004 NFL draft.
Moore was productive for the Vikings, but when the Vikings drafted eventual All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson in 2006, Moore’s role was diminished and he was not re-signed.
Moore signed a three-year deal with the Steelers in 2008. Due to injuries sustained by Mendenhall and Willie Parker, Moore was ushered into the starting lineup for a period and became the team’s workhorse, as he played a major role in the Steelers’ 2008 championship-winning season.
The double major graduate in finance and accounting is a free agent once more. Moore understands the business of the NFL and the cap situation of the Steelers. Although, Moore is grateful for the opportunity to test the market, Pittsburgh is where he wants to be.
“I want to be in Pittsburgh and I love being there…I’m having a great time,” said Moore. “It’s a great organization, from the Rooneys, top to bottom; it’s a first class organization. I’m so happy, I feel so privileged to be a Steeler, and to win a world championship is something you dream of as a player. So, I’m forever indebted and engraved as a Steeler for all eternity.
“With that said, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the upcoming future,” he continued. “I would really love to be a Steeler. I’m looking forward to what free agency has for me. At the same time, I’m being prepared and I have the privilege and chance to continue my career.”
Moore has always been involved with communities and other foundations, such as the National Football Foundation and the United Way, to name a few.
The free agent running back is serious about the lives of children and he realizes that a fraction of parents may view a football camp as a getaway for their kids. For Moore, his football camp is not a getaway, but it a recreation to learn and have fun.
“Some parents may feel (his football camp) is something to do to get (their kids) out the house, like a daycare,” said Moore. “The majority of our parents understands the big picture…We do more than play football. Before we get into a huddle or snap the ball, we get all the kids around and we let our hip-hop doc, who is a real doctor, do a rhyme for the kids. It’s all in good nature, just having wholesome fun.”
While Moore’s NFL career continues to flourish with the Steelers or another team, he will use his celebrity positively and be motivated by affecting the lives of countless individuals to help improve the society of today and tomorrow.
“When I look at these kids’ faces and as they give us all they have by going out there (the field) giving us a 100 percent in their practices, training, it’s moving,” said Moore. “They realize that this is a big deal, not just the tools to play football, but tools of life to get the information to apply to the real world.
“We help kids to be aware of not using drugs and not going out driving drunk, not drinking alcohol period,” he added. “We want them to be aware of all the things that can hurt them, so when they become adults, they will do things responsibly. We want them to be stand up citizens and function well in society.”
Barry Barnes is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.