Tale of two teams for Sonoma’s Moll
TONY MOLL is the first Sonoma Valley High School football Dragon ever chosen in the NFL draft.
It’s been a year of mixed emotions for Sonoma’s Tony Moll.
There’s been the high of experiencing, with his wife Megan, the exciting reward of being a new parent to their 8-month-old daughter Stella. And there’s been the down time, waiting, as an unsigned-but-always-in-shape-and-ready-to-play NFL offensive lineman, with six years as a pro.
While enjoying his first year of fatherhood, the 6-foot 5-inch, 315-pound Moll continues to work out in hopes of returning to the NFL gridiron for the 2013 season. He spent the 2012 campaign, which culminates with this Sunday’s Super Bowl, without a team after the Washington Redskins released him on the brink of the regular season.
As for Sunday’s Super Bowl in New Orleans, Moll is caught in the midst of a quandary, his loyalties divided between two teams he has a lot of gridironpassion for – the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens.
Moll, a 2001 Sonoma Valley High School graduate, former prep all-league, All Empire standout, and all-conference star at the University of Nevada, Reno, was the first Sonoma football Dragon ever chosen in the NFL draft. He was drafted by Green Bay in 2006, and was then traded by the Packers to the Baltimore Ravens.
“Growing up in my house it was ‘San Francisco 49ers only,’ and I’ll always be a 49er fan. The only time I’m not rooting for the 49ers is when I’m playing against them,” said Moll. “That’s why this Super Bowl puts me in the middle of my life-long favorite team going against a team with a lot of players that I’ve formed some close friendships with, as Megan has with their wives.”
Besides Washington, Moll has also had short playing stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Diego Chargers. But it’s with the Ravens, where he played on the offensive line, that he has the closest ties, forging bonds with fellow players, including quarterback Joe Flacco and the controversial, all-pro linebacker, Ray Lewis, his next-door locker neighbor.
“When it comes to playing football, Ray (Lewis) is a great teammate and true leader. I would talk with him every day, as did everyone on the team, and he’s an excellent communicator and help to all the players, which, along with the motivation of coach John Harbaugh, makes Baltimore a strong and dangerous team to play,” Moll said. “Definitely, the brothers’ coaching matchup – John versus Jim – is very intriguing, because they’re similar in their coaching styles, so competitive and passionate, and both are players’ coaches.”
While touting the Ravens’ famed defense and productive offense, Moll also is impressed with the 49ers and their coach, their top-rated defense and the exciting offense now efficiently quarterbacked by young sensation Collin Kaepernick, who also happens to be a fellow University of Nevada, Reno, alum and grid standout.
Though Moll has never met the younger Kaepernick, he’s seen and knows his strengths, especially running the “pistol offense” that has its roots at Nevada, and can break a game wide open when run correctly.
“I should know the ‘pistol offense’ because I helped develop it when I played tight end for Nevada and it was first implemented and successfully used my senior season in Reno,” said Moll.
So, as for wearing the hats of both teams, who is Moll pulling for and who does he think will win the Super Bowl?
“It’s hard to choose, and not just because of loyalties, but because both teams have strong defenses, strong-armed quarterbacks, lots of talent and depth and either one is capable of winning,” Moll said. “I do feel it’s going to be a low-scoring game, like a 13-7 final, and I’ll be, I guess like the Harbaugh brothers’ parents, both happy for the winner and sad for the loser.”
As for what’s on Moll’s pro football horizon, he said he will continue his daily workouts at Crossfit Valley of the Moon and, as a free agent, will try for one more year to hook up with a team when the NFL market opens for business on March 1.
In the mean time, Moll has a more-than-full-time job as a parent, which keeps the future bright no matter what happens in the world of pro football.