For all the parents and coaches out there who are telling kids that you have to be, say, 6-2, 225 pounds to be competitive in football, meet J.J. Moses.
Moses is a 5-6, 178 pound wide receiver from Waterloo, Iowa, that has never allowed his height to stand in the way of his football career. He has had his struggles, but he wouldn't change one day of it.
His height didn't prohibit him from getting a football scholarship to Iowa State, where he was an All-Big 12 performer as a kick returner. Nor has it kept NFL general managers from showing interest in him.
"His assets as a player are his quickness and vision as a return man," general manager Charley Casserly said. "He can change directions on a dime. His size in some ways becomes an attribute because he can hide a little bit behind the blockers on kickoff returns. People can't see him, and then he can burst through the hole.
"I obviously like his toughness. If you think about it, you can go to the Galleria and walk around the mall; you are going to see a thousand people that are bigger than this guy. And he is playing in the National Football League every Sunday. You have to have tremendous respect for his courage."
The Kansas City Chiefs signed Moses as a rookie free agent in 2001. He was released before the beginning of regular season, but was soon signed to the Green Bay Packers practice squad. By October, he would find himself back in Kansas City on the practice squad. He spent the spring of 2002 overseas, playing for NFL Europe's Scottish Claymores. Moses was an all-league selection as a return man. He recorded 11 receptions for 94 yards, while leading the league in punt returns with 25 for 280 yards, and ranked third in kickoff returns with 14 for 344.
"I am really glad that I had the opportunity to go to Europe," Moses said. "It just gives you more confidence. I was able to get games under my belt playing punt return and kick return. You meet a lot of good people over there; you really do."
Moses feels that NFL Europe provided him with a stage to perform, but at the same time it was an exhausting experience.
"It helps you out to some extent," Moses explained. "Sometimes it takes a lot of toll on your body because you are playing so many games. You play 10 games, and then you get ready to come back to try to make an NFL roster. I believe it has its positives and negatives."
His performance was worthy of a training camp invitation from Kansas City head coach Dick Vermeil. But by Thanksgiving, Moses would find himself back in Green Bay on the practice squad. He would soon be elevated to the active roster and have his NFL debut on December 22, 2002, against Buffalo.
The Texans signed Moses as a free agent this past February. This was his seventh stop in less than two years. There are a lot of people who would have given up by that point, but it was the doubters that provided him with motivation. And Moses responded with a terrific training camp, earning him a roster spot in Houston.
"I would rather be doubted," Moses said. "If my back's against the wall, I perform better. I have always been used to my back against the wall. I have always been doubted, but it's allowed me to stay humble. It's allowed me to be the person that I am today."
Moses returned a kickoff 70 yards at New Orleans in Week 2, setting a club record. He is currently averaging 25.3 yards on kickoff returns, ranking fourth in the AFC.
Moses gives partial credit to Vermeil for the person that he is today. For this reason, last week's home opener had a little different meaning for Moses.
"It felt real good, because I have a whole bunch of friends on that team," Moses said. "Coach Vermeil was one of the coaches that gave me an opportunity to be here now. If it wasn't for him, I don't know where I would be today. The game was very important to me. I wanted to do good, but unfortunately they won. But, hopefully, in due time we can meet up again."
Moses didn't have a bad performance against the Chiefs this past Sunday. He tied former wide receiver Avion Black for the most kickoffs returned in one game by a Texan, when he ran back seven kickoffs for an average of 23.4 yards per return.
Moses was also up against both his fiercest competition and friend on the field in Chiefs returner Dante Hall.
"When me and Dante went against each other (in practice), it brought out the best in both of us," Moses said. "I have learned a lot of things from him. He has probably learned things from me, but I believe going against Dante has helped me a lot as far as my football ability."
Moses has one goal for his first full season in the NFL.
<span>"</span><span>To stay healthy," Moses said. "I just want to stay healthy. I know if I stay healthy, I can let the good Lord handle the rest." </span>