Linebacker Arthur Moats entered the league as the Buffalo Bills sixth-round pick in 2010. He quickly made a name for himself in the league that year after a breathtaking play during the Bills December game against the Minnesota Vikings. The rookie linebacker made history when he leveled Vikings QB Brett Favre, a play that ended Favre's 297 consecutive games played streak, widely considered to be one of the most impressive in the history of sports. Some perspective: Moats was four years old when Farve played his first game in 1992.
At the time, Moats said, per ESPN, "I don't want to see anybody hurting and not playing any more. If he plays, that would be a good thing. But if he doesn't, and I was the guy to end the streak, all right. That's a little notable, yeah." He ended up earning the moniker Legend Killer, and the catch-phrase "Don't Cross the Moats" was born.
These days, Moats is hoping to earn notoriety for strong play on the field, and mentorship off the field. Moats is putting in the work to ensure he is at the top of his game often staying late after practice is over. He said to Steelers.com, "For me I am a big guy as far as stretching afterwards and working on my fundamentals and techniques."
Moats has sound advice for younger players, and he practices what he preaches. "I'm always trying to find the winning edge," he shared. He tells them: "Stay as long as you need to make sure you're improving yourself." He also some sage words for rookies who were picked up as late in the draft as he was, noting that there is much less room for mistakes since the team has a lot less invested in a late-round player than they do an earlier pick. Perhaps it was that realization that lead Moats to become focused on perfecting his craft to the extent that he is.
Meanwhile, he's impressed with what he sees in Bud Dupree and Jarvis Jones:
"They are out here putting in the work and improving every day. The thing that I like the most about them is they are eager to learn. Neither one of them comes in here as if they have already arrived or they know everything. They are still here in the classroom trying to learn. When we come out here to the field they are staying after, doing extra work, making sure they are learning the nuances of the defense. That way they can be successful this year."
Moats also highlighted one key aspect of his time with the Buffalo Bills that should result in tremendous improvement this year with the Steelers. Though he played for Buffalo for four seasons, he faced a challenging situation there because of the high turnover in coaches.
"I know for me, my history playing in Buffalo," he shared via Steelers.com, "I have had different coordinators pretty much every year." There was a benefit to this lack of stability, however. Moates explained, "I have always had to have that learning curve, learning a new defense, learning a new spot. So for me to have that continuity is a breath of fresh air."
This adaptability, coupled with the consistency the Steelers are providing, should lead to an incredibly productive future for the linebacker. His one-year contract with the Steelers turned into a three-year extension this past March.
This offseason, the Steelers are already benefiting from Moats' contributions to the team on and off the practice field. Come regular season, Moats has unlimited potential, especially now that he is benefiting from coaching continuity for the first time in his professional career. Underneath that personable, gracious facade lurks a Legend Killer.
Come September, Steelers' opponents should remember: Don't Cross Moats.