Linebacker Sio Moore is known to Raider Nation as the fiery, energetic, dancing, hype-man linebacker on game day. His positive energy can be felt from his teammates next to him on the field all the way up to the upper levels of the stadium. That excitement always seems unbreakable, impenetrable and constant.
Moore has dealt with adversity throughout his life, but last season, when he was injured to the point that required surgery, his energy, positivity and focus were tested.
"Man, that was probably one of the hardest times I had to deal with," said Moore. "I think what helped me get through it is just knowing that I'm a type of person that's always able to try and find my way and fight through adversity."
Despite only playing in 11 games in 2014, Moore nearly doubled his tackle total from his rookie year. There were glimpses of the type of player he could be. Although the injury took away his ability to play a full season, the third-year linebacker was too resilient to let a setback take away his passion for the game.
Recovering from his injuries kept Moore out of a majority of the offseason work on the field, but he was finally able to get some good reps during the Mandatory Mini-Camp. "It was even more of a learning experience going out there because now I see where I am and where I need to get to by the time camp comes around," said Moore.
Dealing with his injury allowed Moore to reflect on his passion for football. "I went through a lot of battles with surgeries and trying to put myself back to a better place than where I was before," he explained. "I think adversity alone has taught me a lot about having a lot of grit, having a lot of attitude, having a lot of passion, having and building a lot of consistency."
From the day he was drafted by the Raiders in 2013, Moore has learned many valuable lessons about football and life from his experiences.
In 2014, he looked back on the lessons learned as a rookie. "I think I've learned more about myself through the game," Moore told Raiders.com last season. "I've learned more about what I have to do, whether it be on the football field or off it, how to conduct myself, who I have to be on a consistent basis and just what I have to do to get to the level to where I know I can get to."
Now reflecting on his second year, his understanding of football and how it relates to life has grown. "My most important lesson I learned last year had to be really understanding how to separate yourself," Moore explained. "I think last year helped me see what I could be and what I can be if I separate myself from everything outside of football and make myself part of everything I want to be a part of in football."
The University of Connecticut-product has had great teachers throughout his first two seasons. His biggest influence was former Bears and Raiders linebacker Nick Roach. "I feel like my years with Nick, they were golden to me," said Moore. "I hold a lot of value in them because now I see what Nick was really trying to teach me – he was teaching me how to be a leader. That's what he gave to me."
The best photos of LB Sio Moore from the 2014 season.
Moore now has veteran linebacker Curtis Lofton in the middle. Moore has always understood the importance of aligning himself with the players with experience, knowledge and success in order to better himself.
"I'm always with guys like [Justin] Tuck; I was with guys like Nick Roach, guys like Wood [Charles Woodson]. Throughout the years I'm with older guys so I'm learning more," said Moore. "When you put yourself in those circles, the amount of information you're able to absorb, it's at a higher level and it helps you grow faster."
A new benefit for Moore this year is the wealth of knowledge emanating from the coaching staff. The third-year linebacker has Head Coach Jack Del Rio (11-year NFL linebacker), Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. (13-year NFL linebacker), and linebackers coach Sal Sunseri (University of Pittsburgh linebacker) to gain information.
"I've had a couple conversations with Coach [Del Rio] and it's easier to talk to him because one, he wore double nickels [No. 55], and two, he played the position," said Moore. "Playing linebacker, your head and how you look at things is a little bit different. When you can talk to a guy who understands exactly where you are, exactly what you're trying to do, it helps. When you're talking to another linebacker, it's almost like its own fraternity. Guys understand a lot because we have a lot of the same rigors day in and day out."
In addition to his rapport with the Head Coach, Moore is embracing Coach Norton's style. "Coach Norton is a guy that's really committed to everything he stands for. He's creating an environment for everyone that's in it to stand for that same purpose," he explained. "The thing about the purpose that's unique, I think, is it's not just his own purpose; he allows the players to create the purpose, so it's not driven from him, it's driven by us."
Meanwhile, Coach Sunseri is helping Moore hone his skill set. "I think his coaching style is very open and he allows players to have an open discussion with him and that helps a lot," said Moore. "A guy like Coach Sal coming in, he helps to fine-tune. That's the type of coach he is. He's trying to fine-tune you to be the best that you can, to be as productive as you can, he looks for that."
Moore believes that because all three coaches [Del Rio, Norton, Jr., and Sunseri] are former linebackers, there's a deeper understanding, higher expectations, and a different level of focus and determination.
"That's why all of our coaches are so passionate because when you play the linebacker position, you've got to have fire," said Moore. "You've got to be passionate. You have to have a chip on your shoulder. You've got to be a badass. You have to be somebody's pain in the ass. You can tell just by how all of them carry themselves that at some point in their lives or careers, they were a pain in the ass to somebody on the other side of the ball. You can appreciate that because that's what you're trying to create now and that's the type of legacy you want to leave when you get out of ball and that carries on to whatever else you do in your life. For them being coaches, you can tell how they coach, that's how they played."
Moore takes his role on the defense extremely seriously. He knows how important the middle of the defense is to the execution of a play. "I've always felt like the linebackers should be the heart of a team and a heart of a defense," Moore said. "If you look at a marching band or you look at anything that has to do with a group of people like that, I look at it like the linebackers are like the heartbeat; they're like the snare drum. It doesn't live without it."
The Raiders now have their summer break and Moore will use the time to fully recover and prepare for training camp. While Raider Nation awaits the return of football, one thing is for sure, the Raiders dancing, hype-man linebacker's fire and passion are back full force. "I'm making sure that my body and my mind is mentally ready to play until February."