Langston Moore attacked like he attacked NFL quarterbacks on Sundays — with relentless vigor and precision. With a whole lot of energy. He moved about with a purpose and a mission.
But he was not out to sack Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger, Rex Grossman or Marc Bulger.
This was a Wednesday morning in May, and Moore was moving through the center aisle in the auditorium at Irmo Elementary School taking questions from children.
Moore and fellow former South Carolina football player Preston Thorne were out to spread their message of education. With their book, “#JustAChickenLittle”, the two were there to show children the importance of reading, writing and speaking. And, with their in-your-face, hip way of doing it, they were out to show just how cool all three are.
“Those three skills will put a whole bunch of money in your pocket,” Moore told the 750 or so students they met with. “Make sure you don’t get your brain all soggy. Thirty minutes of games, 30 minutes of reading.”
Moore (1999-2002) and Thorne (2001-04) expressed how important the three skills are not just now, but how fundamental they will be in whatever the students become in life. They told a group of third, fourth and fifth graders that growing the skills will give them confidence.
But the overall theme throughout the day was fun and competition.
Thorne told students about how NBA player Steph Curry has to make 100 3-pointers in a row before leaving practice. He then asked students what the word consecutive means. “With skills you gain confidence,” he said. “Same thing with reading skills. If you read, you’ll get better.”
Moore asked students what NFL stands for. “National Football League,” one responded.
Not so, according to the former Detroit Lion, Arizona Cardinal and Cincinnati Bengal. “Not For Long,” he said before reiterating that reading, writing and speaking set him up for a career after football.
Moore told students he was part of a winless Gamecock squad and an 0-16 Lions team. “Worse than the Browns?” one student asked.
Moore and Thorne tailored their presentations.
They asked the first group of students they met with in the auditorium — the third, fourth and fifth graders — to hypothesize what the book may be about and to draw comparisons from what they know about the classic book “Chicken Little” to what a Gamecock version may be.
They asked a younger audience they met with later in the day — kindergarteners, first graders and second graders — the difference between the author and illustrator. They had the students point out the shapes and colors on the page and also asked them to find the footballs.
Between the auditorium sessions, Moore and Thorne met with one fifth grade class and one third grade class. In both, the two authors were asked questions, some serious and some silly.
In the fifth-grade class, they were asked what the publishing process of a book is (it took them two years) and if they have ever had writer’s block. They asked about the pair’s writing process since they live in two different cities. They talked about Google Docs.
Moore was asked why he stopped playing in the NFL, so he told a story about getting cut. “They put all your stuff in a plastic bag and send it to your house,” he said.
The two get asked if they will write a third book in the series. “One more and we’ll complete the series and then we’ll see where our creative genes take us,” they said.
But questions one would expect from elementary school children were also asked.
Moore and Thorne were asked their favorite colors, favorite foods and about how they became friends. They also sat through stories about several of the students’ interesting pets.
One boy questioned if Moore really played in the NFL. “I didn’t see you on my Xbox and that’s the 360,” he said.
To the students, Moore and Thorne are mostly just authors.
But joked Moore about the man he was named after, “But don’t get me confused with Langston Hughes.”