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Coach Moss aids Toronto

by Campbell Blake
April 25, 2001 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I)

Moss instills discipline in Toronto

Campbell Blake

When Toronto Phantoms Head Coach and General Manager Mark Stout announced that Joe Moss would be joining the Phantoms as the offensive line/defensive line coach for the 2001 season, the Phantoms were not only getting a man with a vast amount of coaching experience, but a coach very familiar to the Toronto and Canadian football scene. With almost 50 years of coaching experience at the college and pro level under his belt, Joe Moss has practically seen it all. His many stops throughout his long coaching career have taken him to places throughout North America. They include the United States Air Force Academy, the New Jersey Red Dogs and the Toronto Argonauts on four separate occasions, including a nine-game stint as their head coach in 1974.

Over his 25 years of coaching in Canada, Moss made it a common occurrence to coach a team more than once. Along with being a part of the Toronto Argonauts staff on four separate occassions, he made his way to Ottawa three times, including a two-year stint as their head coach during the mid 1980s. Following his departure from the Argonauts in 1989, he joined the Hamilton Tiger Cats as their defensive line coach. He remained in Hamilton until the end of 1993, only to return for the 1997 season after working for Ottawa and Toronto once again. By the way, the only team that he worked for just once was when he was the Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive backs coach in 1977.

One of the main reasons Moss has worked in so many places more than once is the importance he has placed on being comfortable with the people with whom he works. This holds great importance for him when it comes to achieving his goals on a team and personal level. One of the people that Joe Moss is most comfortable working with is former Toronto Argonauts Head Coach Bob O'Billovich. They first worked together back in the late 1970s in Ottawa when O'Billovich was the team's defensive co-ordinator and Moss was their defensive line coach. The comfort level between the two is quite apparent when you consider that at every point of O'Billovich's head coaching career in the CFL, Joe Moss has almost always been on his staff. The only time they were not together was when Joe Moss was Ottawa's head coach in the mid 1980s and following the completion of the 1989 season when O'Bilovich moved out West to coach the BC Lions. Joe Moss decided to remain in the east as he joined the staff of the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Coach Moss is a throwback to the old days when you consider the high emphasis he holds for discipline and execution. This is not a surprise when you see that he is a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve. His connection to the Air Force dates back to the 1950s when he served at Bolling AFB in Washington. While there, one of his many duties included playing for and coaching Bolling's football team which won a service championship. He was also the chief assistant coach at the United States Air Force Academy from 1961 through 1968, where he had the added pressures of the Vietnam War. Coach Moss was not just a coach then but a confidant for his players in helping them deal with the realities that they might have to go to war. This was no easy assignment and has had a great impact on how Moss coaches and interacts with his players ever since.

While Moss has been coaching at the college and pro level for the past 50 years, prior to 1998 when he joined the staff of the New Jersey Red Dogs, arena football was something of an unknown to him. Along with having to learn a new game, he had to change much of his coaching ways that he developed over the years to meet the needs of the smaller field and fewer players on it. While the basic rules of football are the same between the indoor and outdoor game, there are many that are different, and the way that a coach will prepare his players to play is not the same. The one thing that will help the Phantoms succeed this season is Coach Moss's knowledge and experience, which he will use to help the team be more disciplined and execute its plays in a timely and proper manner.

The one moment that defines the passion he has for the game occurred following the 1974 CFL season. When John Rach was fired as the Argos head coach in September of 1974, Coach Moss was appointed their new head man with nine games left in the season. When the season concluded with the Argos finishing 3-5-1 and missing the playoffs, Moss was relieved of his duties. Following the announcement of Russ Jackson as their new head man for the 1975 season, Moss put aside his pride and accepted the position as the defensive co-ordinator on Jackson's coaching staff.

The likes of Connell Spain, Mark Konopka and Jerness Gether will be the greatest benefactors of Coach Moss's knowledge and experience this season. Along with learning how to be better disciplined on the field, they will learn and benefit from the experiences of a coach who has almost seen it all in his nearly 50 years of coaching, ranging from the University of Maryland to the Hamilton Tiger Cats and now with the Toronto Phantoms.

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Arena Football League (1987-2008) Stories from April 25, 2001

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