Coach Perry L. Moss

August 4, 1926August 7, 2014
Obituary of Coach Perry L. Moss
PERRY MOSS (1926-2014) Orlando has lost a coaching legend. Perry Moss, whose career in college and professional football stretched into parts of seven decades, passed away on Thursday, August 7, 2014, at his DeBary home. Best remembered as the first Head Coach and General Manager of the Orlando Predators, he was also one of the founding fathers of the Arena Football League. Moss was 88. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on August 4, 1926, Moss began his college career at the University of Tulsa – where he was the starting tailback on the Golden Hurricane’s 1945 Orange Bowl winning team. He would serve two years in the United States Air Force before enrolling at the University of Illinois, where he was the team’s starting quarterback. When he engineered a 45-14 win over UCLA in 1947 Rose Bowl, Moss became the first player in NCAA history to lead two different colleges to New Year’s Day bowl wins. He was selected to various All-America teams in all three seasons of eligibility. Following graduation, Moss was selected in the 13th round of the NFL Draft and played one season with the Green Bay Packers in 1948. A shoulder injury sent him to the sidelines, where he spent the next 50 years coaching the game at the college and professional levels. His college stops included head coach at both Florida State University (1959) and Marshall (1968). Moss also served as an assistant coach at Illinois, Washington, LSU, Miami (FL), Wisconsin and the University of Central Florida. At Miami, he also served as head baseball coach for one season. His NFL coaching experience included assistant coaching positions with the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills. Moss was a head coach in the Canadian Football League (Montreal Alouettes), World Football League (San Antonio Wings), Continental Football League (Orlando Panthers, Charleston (West Virginia) Rockets), and American Football Association (West Virginia Rockets, Carolina Chargers.) His Charleston Rockets were the first professional football team to go undefeated in a season, winning the league championship in 1965. During the span of his career, Moss also coached in the American Football League, United States Football League, Arena Football League, Arena2 and European Professional Football League. Commenting on the number of coaching jobs he had, Coach Moss once told a reporter “I’ve not missed any leagues, at least none of the ones I have heard of. I’ve always been able to find a job and I’ve always been able to do what I’ve wanted to do since high school and that’s being a football coach.” Moss became involved with Arena Football League founder James Foster in 1986, when he became a consultant for the league and helped write its rules. Moss was the head coach of the Chicago Bruisers (1988) and Detroit Drive (1990) leading both teams to the ArenaBowl title game and winning a title with the Drive. In 1991, Moss became the first Head Coach and General Manager of the Orlando Predators. In seven seasons, he guided the Predators to a 59-25-0 regular season record and led the team to three championship game appearances. He was named Arena Football League Coach of the Year in 1990, 1992 and 1994, and received the league’s Founder’s Award in 1996. Overall, Moss was 75-28-1 in nine seasons in the AFL. That total still ranks 8th on the all-time coaching wins list and his 726 winning percentage is the second best percentage in league history-- and first among coaches with three or more seasons. His 11 post-season wins rank fifth best in league history. His overall record, including playoff games, stands at 86-35-1. Moss even came back from retirement to serve one year as head coach for the Jacksonville Tomcats in arena football2 in 2000. Moss is a member of several sports Hall of Fames, including the University of Tulsa Hall of Fame, American Football Coaches Hall of Fame, Florida Sports Hall of Fame and the Arena Football League Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, the Arena Football League announced that its Coach of the Year Award would be named after Moss and fellow coach Tim Marcum, who died in 2013. Moss’s coaching success was tied to his offensive mind and his unique ability to adapt to changing times. In an interview, he once said, “I’ve coached with, under and against all the big names – Bear Bryant, Don Shula, George Allen. I think I learned some football during that time. One thing I’ve always done is stay up with the game. I’ve never tried to get by on what I was coaching 10 years ago.” Considered a player’s coach, Moss always deflected any praise to his players. “One thing I have learned over the years is no matter how good of a coach you think you are, no matter how much you teach, you have to have players to win.” Moss’s son, Les, followed him into coaching, serving as his assistant in Chicago, Detroit and Orlando. Les is now the head coach of the AFL’s Jacksonville Sharks. Moss was preceded in death by his parents, William Perry and Lola Copeland Moss, wife, Gay Lee Moss, sister, Elaine Moss Benish and brother, Les Moss–a former Major League Baseball catcher and manager. In addition to his son, Les (Cindy), Moss is survived by sons, Calvin Moss (Peggy Lee), Perry Moss, Jr. (Kim), daughter, Penny Moss Sheppard (Matt), grandchildren, Jacob Moss; Claire, Ava, Bennett and Laurel Sheppard; Justin, Ellie and Gillian Moss; Tawny Robertson, as well as four great-grandchildren. The family would like to thank the nurses and aids at Brightstar Home Health Care of Lake Mary, especially Rebecca, Devon, Fred, Crystal and Tracy, for their care over the past 3 months, as well as VITAS Hospice of Daytona, especially Paul. Penny and Les want to show special appreciation to Cindy Moss, for her constant care for her father-in-law during his illness. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, August 30th at Trinity Assembly of God Church, 875 Elkcam Blvd., Deltona, FL at 11:00 am, To honor Moss, the family suggests donations to VITAS Hospice of Daytona or Gridiron Greats, a nonprofit that assists retired NFL players dealing with hardships.

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