Wheneverconversation turns to the most decorated iron men in sports, rarely--ifever--does the discussion include Kyle Moore-Brown of the Arena FootballLeague's Colorado Crush. True, Moore-Brown has played in far fewer games thanA.C. Green did in the NBA or Cal Ripken did in baseball, but ask yourself this:Were either of those two routinely pancaked to a turf that can generously bedescribed as "fuzzy concrete"?
Concussive hitsare commonplace for Moore-Brown, who has started 191 consecutive AFL games(including playoffs) and, like most AFL athletes, plays both ways, lining up atcenter on offense and at nosetackle on defense. For about 52 minutes each game,the 6'4", 319-pound Moore-Brown endures a relentless pounding. "It'srough out there," says Moore-Brown, 35. "We play a physical game, andthat turf is awful on the joints."
Despite such apunishing workday, Moore-Brown, a Newark native, has not missed a start in his11-plus seasons. He made his AFL debut with the Albany Firebirds in 1995 aftertwo failed tryouts with the Detroit Lions. The Firebirds' offensive coordinatorat the time was Mike Dailey, who quickly discovered what kind of playerMoore-Brown is. "We had one game where Kyle broke the thumb on his right[snapping] hand," says Dailey, who's now the head coach of the Crush andhas been with Moore-Brown every step of his career. "Without a word he justswitched to snapping with his left and played the rest of the game. It's thingslike that, which might set another person back, that he just fightsthrough."
Impressive asMoore-Brown's streak is--it's the longest in AFL history--his durability wasevident as far back as college. In three years at Kansas (he sat out hisfreshman season for academic reasons), Moore-Brown, then known as Kyle Moore,played in all but one game and was a big reason the Jayhawks reached theirfirst bowl game in 11 seasons in his senior year.
It was also inLawrence that Moore first met Gilbert Brown, who would go on to play 10 seasonsat defensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers. The two became inseparable pals,and a potentially tragic accident in 1993 only deepened their friendship.
Returning fromspring break in Brown's hometown, Detroit, Moore took the wheel of Brown'struck to start the 13-hour drive back to Lawrence. After six hours Moore askedBrown to drive for an hour so that he could take a nap. But the groggy Brownfell asleep at the wheel, veering across a three-lane highway before crashingover an embankment into a watery ditch. The two were awakened by the impact,and as they sat collecting themselves, the first thing they saw was a priest attheir window. "I thought we were dead," says Moore-Brown. "Then Ilook over at Gilbert, and he says, 'Big Dog, I messed up my truck real bad.' Isaid, 'Your truck? Man, you almost got me killed!'"
But the two wereunhurt and continued to spend vacations together in Detroit with Brown's familyas Moore forged a special bond with Gilbert's father, Leroy. (Kyle's ownfather, James Howard, spent much of Kyle's life in prison before his death fromAIDS in 1995; he had been convicted of murder when Kyle was five.) "Leroytold me the things I needed to hear, when I needed to hear them," saysMoore-Brown. "My mother raised me right, but I never really had a man tolook up to."
When Leroy died,in 1998, Moore asked Gilbert if he could add the Brown name to his own. "Iwas honored," says Brown, "and happy he wanted to take our name. I lovehim for it."
Leroy Brown wouldno doubt be proud of what Moore-Brown has accomplished. He has been part of twoAFL champions (1999 and 2005) and will be going for a third with the AmericanConference--leading Crush when the playoffs get under way on May 27.
As always,Moore-Brown will be ready to go for virtually every minute. "Truth is, Idon't play for the streak, I play for my teammates," he says. "As longas I'm not letting them down, well, I'm going to keep doing it."
Kyle Moore-Brownholds the endurance mark for the Arena Football League with 191 straight games.Here are his counterparts who had the longest active streaks in other sports atweek's end.
KEVIN TERRELL/WIREIMAGE.COM (2)
IRON MAN Moore-Brown plays about 52 of every 60 minutes for the Colorado Crush.