It's official. Tom Moore won't return as an offensive assistant this season for the Indianapolis Colts, with team owner Jim Irsay confirming that Moore is gone.
But that, said Irsay, doesn't mean he can't -- or won't -- be affiliated with the Colts again.
"I don't close the door on anything," he said. "I think he's a little uncertain what he wants to do. But I wouldn't rule anything out."
|Four-time MVP Peyton Manning credits veteran Colts assistant Tom Moore for much of his success. (US Presswire)|
"Tom wasn't exactly certain what he wanted to do," Irsay said. "He and I talked about it after the season ended and had a really good conversation. I said, 'What are you thinking about doing?' and he told me, 'I don't know. I'm thinking about taking the year off, but I may want to coach. I've wanted to see some of the young guys get their chance to coach, but I might want to play some role for you guys at some point.'
"I just told him that I wanted to make sure he felt good about how everything's going. It's one of those things where he could do something somewhere, but he's a little bit torn."
Moore is one of two highly regarded offensive assistants to leave the Indianapolis staff in the past two years. Offensive line coach Howard Mudd is the other, resigning after the 2009 season, but he hasn't left the game. Philadelphia coach Andy Reid talked him out of retirement in February, with Mudd taking over as the Eagles' offensive line coach this season.
Moore and Mudd were critical elements to one of the league's most effective offenses -- a unit that propelled the Colts to at least 12 victories in every season from 2003-2009, put them in two Super Bowls and had quarterback Peyton Manning winning an NFL-record four MVP trophies.
Moore was so invaluable that when Tony Dungy assumed command as head coach of the Colts in 2002, one of his first acts was to keep Moore from the previous staff. It was under Moore that Manning developed into one of the game's elite players, and it is Moore whom Manning credits for much of his success.
But Moore's departure had been anticipated after he served last year as the team's senior offensive assistant, with Clyde Christensen promoted to first-year offensive coordinator. After the season, Moore spoke with division rival Tennessee about its then-vacant offensive coordinator's position, with the Titans eventually hiring Chris Palmer.
"When the year ended he said he was probably going to take the next season off," Irsay said of Moore. "I think he felt a little tired and worn down. It was just one of those things where the tank got close to empty.
"But something tells me we may see him around here again. In fact, I'd say it's unlikely we've seen the last of him. There is so much football history and knowledge there that you never know -- maybe he could return in a consultant's role or in some capacity where he's part of the organization.
"He's meant so much to the franchise and is such a special friend of the organization that if wants to play a role I wouldn't rule it out."