During the 1990s and early 2000s, NBA fans tuned into the television program NBA Inside Stuff.
The program, hosted by Ahmad Rashad, was filled with game highlights and top plays of the previous week.
The show also followed Rashad as he went behind the scenes to interview some of the biggest names in the league.
As the likes of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, and Clyde Drexler were helping to drive the NBA’s popularity at the time, Rashad’s all-access pass to the world of pro basketball helped the sport grow internationally.
What many viewers may not have realized at the time is that Rashad had his roots in professional football.
For nearly a decade, he played receiver for three different NFL franchises, including four Pro Bowl years with the Minnesota Vikings.
I'm attending the Miracle At The Met Vikings Legends event with my good friend Ahmad Rashad on 12/16. Join me and a lot of other teammates for a fun night!
more info at https://t.co/m50ZKJ48y3 pic.twitter.com/rpHmgpr7U5
— Chuck Foreman (@ChuckForeman) November 29, 2022
Along the way, Rashad upset and delighted fans with his conversion to Islam, his role in one of the biggest plays in Vikings history, and his marriage to one of television’s favorite actresses.
After retiring with nearly 500 career receptions, Rashad began his second career in broadcasting.
This is the story of Ahmad Rashad.
Growing Up in the Pacific Northwest
Rashad was born Robert Earl Moore on November 19, 1949, in Portland, Oregon.
He was the youngest of six children to parents who found very little time for play, let alone athletics.
While Bobby was still young, the Moore family moved a few hours north to Tacoma, Washington.
Moore’s father, O.C., worked as a barber and shoeshiner at the nearby Fort Lewis military base.
The soldiers who were stationed at Fort Lewis came from all over the country. Both Bobby and his father received their share of racist comments from the soldiers.
Bobby Moore used racism as fuel to compete in youth sports and began playing at a nearby facility named the South End Boys Club.
That’s when he began to hone his athleticism and found that he was adept at playing numerous sports and activities.
Moore eventually came into his own at Mount Tahoma High School.
When they Were Young Day at VikeFans – WR Ahmad Rashad at Mount Tahoma High and at University of Oregon. He was a star RB at each school. @NBATVAhmad pic.twitter.com/ZWt6sNAcLM
— VikeFans (@VikeFans) June 29, 2021
While growing to a little over six feet tall during his prep career, Moore played football, and basketball, and competed in track and field.
On the hardwood, Moore led the Tacoma Public School District in scoring, and in track, he won a state title in the high jump.
However, football was Moore’s real bread and butter.
On the gridiron, he was a marvelous running back who sliced through opposing defenses with ease.
By the time Moore was wrapping up his high school career, several colleges on the West Coast were recruiting him.
That’s when Moore decided to return to his birth state.
Moore Shines for the Ducks
Moore signed his letter of intent with the University of Oregon at the same time the school was opening its new stadium.
Autzen Stadium would soon host a plethora of good players through the years, and Moore was one of them.
He began playing as a wingback and receiver for the Ducks and rushed for 171 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught a team-leading 54 passes for 786 yards and 10 more scores.
NBA Reporter/Jordan Insider/Former Oregon RB, Ahmad Rashad (known as Bobby Moore while in Eugene) pic.twitter.com/cRIDvlCaIF
— James Vos (@WhosTheVos) May 4, 2020
During his first game as a starter, Moore helped beat the University of Utah with three touchdown receptions.
That set an Oregon record for most receiving touchdowns in a game.
Moore’s break-out season helped him earn an All-Pacific Coast Conference Team selection.
Then in 1970, sophomore quarterback Dan Fouts took over as the starting signal caller.
Oregon had big time talent in 1971. Clean shaven Dan Fouts at QB and Ahmad Rashad at RB. pic.twitter.com/EJCTplPSMt
— FB_Helmet_Guy (@FB_Helmet_Guy) November 6, 2020
Fouts and Moore became stars for the Ducks even while Oregon compiled a 6-4-1 record.
That season, Fouts passed for over 2,300 yards and 16 touchdowns while Moore caught 45 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns.
When Fouts wasn’t passing him the ball, he was handing it off to Moore who toted the rock 203 times for 924 yards and six touchdowns.
Moore was selected for the all-conference team again after the year.
Before his senior season began, Ducks head coach Jerry Frei moved Moore into the backfield full-time.
That helped Moore get his hands on the ball early and often. He ran for more than 1,200 yards on 249 carries and seven scores.
During an October 9 contest against USC, Moore had no fewer than 38 carries and crashed over the goal line for the game-winning score.
Moore’s rushing total that year was good for eighth-best nationally.
When Moore wasn’t running the pigskin, Fouts continued throwing him passes, adding 32 receptions for 324 yards and three additional scores to his already impressive totals.
Vintage Oregon Duck Football🦆
1972 Ahmad Rashad pic.twitter.com/Ze8yFELE6Y
— CFB Home (@CFBHome) January 22, 2023
Moore was named all-conference for the third time and was also selected as a first-team All-American.
Unfortunately, the offensive talent of Oregon couldn’t help the squad in the win column as the Ducks went 5-6 in 1971.
Although he never got to play in a bowl game, Moore still found success at Oregon.
During his three years as a starter, he rushed for 2,306 yards, had 131 receptions, accumulated 3,898 all-purpose yards, and scored 36 times.
All four stats were team records at the time, and he was eventually inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame.
St. Louis Selects Moore
Before the 1972 NFL Draft, Moore was widely considered the best dual-position player coming out of college.
His talent as both a running back and a receiver was undeniable.
Now, he just needed the right pro team to continue showcasing his talent.
With the fourth overall pick of the draft, the St. Louis Cardinals selected Moore.
Happy birthday to former #BigRed WR Ahmad Rashad (aka Bobby Moore) who was the fourth overall pick in the 1972 NFL draft. Rashad played only two seasons in St. Louis catching 59 passes for 909 yards and 6 TDs. Named NFL All-Rookie Team in 1972. pic.twitter.com/A9Cy0avn92
— St. Louis Football Cardinals (@BigRed_STL) November 19, 2020
It’s easy to understand why St. Louis needed him.
In 1971, the team was ranked 20th in the NFL in offense. The Cards needed a drastic upgrade.
Moore joined a St. Louis squad that had talent, including longtime veteran quarterback Jim Hart, receiver Mel Gray, tight end Jackie Smith, tackle Dan Dierdorf, and fellow rookie offensive lineman Conrad Dobler.
By the end of his first pro training camp, Moore was slotted to become a starter as a receiver and return kickoffs as well.
He started 13 games that season and caught 29 passes for 500 yards and three touchdowns.
Ahmad Rashad of the St. Louis football Cardinals. Rashad would only play 2 seasons under the Gateway Arch pic.twitter.com/7EGSLLZSb0
— Seb 🏈⚾️⚽️🇺🇦 (@CJ28MTL) August 15, 2018
One of his touchdowns came on a league-best 98-yard reception.
Moore also returned 20 kicks for 437 yards.
He made the UPI All-Rookie Team that year, although the Cards actually got worse on offense, finishing 1972 ranked 23rd overall.
Growing up in Tacoma, Moore was raised in a Pentecostal home. His parents were devoted church attendees who brought their kids in tow.
Moore attended the services and later remarked that he frequently feared the “strange things” that went on at church.
Around the same time, he experienced a rare skin disease that required several doctor visits.
The condition caused the appearance of small bumps on his ears, leading to his peers teasing Moore relentlessly.
Exasperated at his condition, Moore’s parents would take him to church and have faith healers lay hands on the boy to heal him.
Just before he entered high school, the skin condition cleared up on its own.
That was around the time that Moore started showing off his athleticism. He became a cocky young man due to frequent adulation.
When he attended Oregon, Moore was still full of himself and apparently thought he was even above the law.
During his junior year in 1970, police arrested and charged Moore with theft.
He was able to plead the charge down to a misdemeanor before his senior year to avoid jail time.
With all this baggage on his shoulders as an NFL rookie in 1972, Moore converted to Islam.
Every time we tweet a photo of Ahmad Rashad in a Cardinal uniform, someone always says, "well, he was known as Bobby Moore in St Louis". We say, "oh really?" @NBATVAhmad pic.twitter.com/anv6Q52vhu
— VikeFans (@VikeFans) April 20, 2021
Before the 1973 season, Bobby Moor changed his name to Ahmad Rashad, which means “admirable one led to truth.”
He chose his last name in honor of biochemist Rashad Khalifa, a close friend and mentor.
Although he felt peace after his conversion, Rashad immediately received backlash due to his new faith and his new name.
Before his second year with St. Louis, the organization hired former San Diego State head coach Don Coryell.
Coryell was a passing enthusiast who did his best to throw the ball as many times as possible during each game.
Someone like Rashad should have been perfect for the “Air Coryell” offense.
Instead, it was anything but for Rashad.
The offense improved during Coryell’s first year (11th overall), but Rashad didn’t see the field as much as he had as a rookie.
“Last year (1973), I thought I had the best training camp since I started playing football,” Rashad said in 1974. “Then I opened the season on the bench. That just blew my mind. When I did get to play, I felt they weren’t utilizing me.”
Coryell frequently rotated Rashad and receiver Walker Gillette, a player the team cut during training camp and then brought back.
Ahmad Rashad (then Bobby Moore) contemplating. “What the hell am I doing in St Louis, and where’s Fran?” @arodp @NBATVAhmad @Fran_Tarkenton #vikings pic.twitter.com/GBzpQ8SQ9z
— VikeFans (@VikeFans) November 15, 2018
To make matters worse, whenever Rashad’s name was announced (home and away) the crowd booed him.
“… the whole place was booing like crazy,” said Rashad. “And when I went to stand next to the guys, they were moving away from me, too!”
For most NFL fans (as well as the players), Rashad’s name change was viewed as a joke and a way to call attention to himself.
Despite the fact that Lew Alcindor had become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just a few years before, and Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali in the 1960s, Rashad’s new name was not received well.
In 1973, Rashad had 30 receptions for 409 yards and three scores, but he felt that he should have been used more often.
Ultimately, Rashad believed that Coryell and Cardinals management were punishing him for his conversion to Islam.
“This is what I’m about. I’m a real person, not Bobby Moore, football player, but Ahmad Rashad, a man who believes in fairness, in truth, and in life.” he stated in his autobiography.
As Rashad ended his disappointing second year, the Cardinals finished 4-9-1 for the third season in a row.
Trade to Buffalo
During the following offseason, Coryell traded Rashad to the Buffalo Bills for backup signal caller Dennis Shaw.
OTD 1974: In one of the worst trades in team history, the Big Red traded Ahmad Rashad to the Buffalo Bills for backup QB Dennis Shaw. #bigred1970s pic.twitter.com/pzZoFQmIxi
— St. Louis Football Cardinals (@BigRed_STL) January 26, 2023
When he arrived in Buffalo, Rashad learned that much of the concerns over his treatment in St. Louis may have been legitimate.
“The doctors with the Bills told me that the Cardinals were telling everyone that I had mental problems and that’s why I couldn’t get along with people,” Rashad said.
His claim was never confirmed by any Cardinals staff member, but Rashad’s treatment by the organization confirmed his worst fears.
“When the Cardinals traded me,” Rashad said, “Coryell told me I had changed drastically. I don’t think I changed at all. It just seemed that they were trying to make a point at my expense, that they were trying to show me that you just don’t do this kind of thing in the NFL.”
With his nasty departure from St. Louis behind him, Rashad seemed to relish his new home as well as his new coach.
“Lou Saban (Buffalo coach) seems to appreciate my talent,” Rashad said, “and that makes me want to work harder to gain his respect.”
Not long after he arrived in Buffalo, Rashad began a friendship with Bills running back O.J. Simpson.
The two were nearly inseparable and were roommates during road games.
#OTD in 1974 the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders combine for one of the most exciting Monday Night games ever as 3 touchdowns are scored in 1:34 at the end of the 4th, the final being a 13 yard TD pass to Ahmad Rashad to give the Bills a 21-20 win. pic.twitter.com/v6oGX1kK3y
— ThisDateInBuffaloSportsHistory (@BuffSportsHstry) September 16, 2022
During the 1974 season, Rashad caught 36 passes for 433 yards and four touchdowns, and Simpson rushed for over 1,100 yards and three scores.
Buffalo went to the playoffs for the first time in eight years with a 9-5 record before losing in the Divisional round to Pittsburgh.
Rashad Becomes a Viking
Ready to continue his success in 1975, Rashad severely injured his knee during the last game of the preseason and had to miss the rest of the year.
The Bills released him after the 1975 season. The expansion Seattle Seahawks had him on their roster in 1976.
Rashad’s knee was still an issue, however, and Seattle wasn’t going to give him a serious chance.
Thankfully, the Minnesota Vikings decided to give him a workout, and quarterback Fran Tarkenton was a fan from day one.
“I put him through his drills, and he was magnificent,” Tarkenton recalled. “I came home and told everybody, ‘This is the best receiver I’ve ever thrown to.’ He was just fantastic.”
When Tarkenton arrived at the team facility the following day, he found Rashad in street clothes because of a failed physical. It appeared that his playing days might be over.
28 of 28: Vikings Legend Ahmad Rashadhttps://t.co/wembN6RDkK#skol #Vikings #CTP pic.twitter.com/VjyX8TfF6l
— Climbing the Pocket (@Climb_ThePocket) August 3, 2020
Fred Zamberletti, Minnesota’s lead athletic trainer said the receiver had “a real big flexion contracture of his knee, couldn’t straighten it out.”
That’s when Tarkenton intervened.
“You can’t let this guy go.” Tarkenton said he told general manager Mike Lynn, “If you don’t call right now and tell Ahmad he’s on the team, I will not play next Sunday.”
Not wanting to upset their franchise QB, the Vikings caved and signed Rashad.
“They signed Ahmad, and that’s how Ahmad came to life,” Tarkenton said. “If that doesn’t happen, you know what happens to Ahmad? He never plays. Nobody else would have picked him up, right? His career would have been over and what a shame, which makes you think about how many times this happened to other guys that weren’t so lucky.”
Rashad arrived in Minnesota at just the right time.
With Tarkenton slinging passes his way, Rashad had 53 catches for 671 yards and three touchdowns.
The Vikings went 11-2-1, beat the Redskins and Rams in the playoffs, and faced the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XI.
Although Rashad caught three passes for 53 yards during the contest, Oakland was too tough to beat and pounded Minnesota, 32-14.
#TakeMeBackTuesday 🏴☠️🏈📸#Raiders CB Willie Brown versus Vikings WR Ahmad Rashad while LB Monte Johnson looks on during Super Bowl XI. pic.twitter.com/FvLh1hJrUJ
— AFL Godfather 🏴☠️👓🏈 (@NFLMAVERICK) July 13, 2021
In 1977, Rashad had 51 receptions for 681 yards and two scores while the Vikings went 9-5 and lost in the Conference title game to Dallas.
“He is probably the most under-sung great receiver that’s ever been,” Tarkenton said. “In his era, there was nobody anywhere in football that played any better at wide receiver than Ahmad Rashad.”
The Miracle at the Met
By the time the 1978 season began, Minnesota management was ecstatic that they took a chance on Rashad.
After hauling in 66 passes for 769 yards and eight touchdowns for the 8-7-1 Vikings, Rashad finally received his first Pro Bowl nod where he became the game’s MVP.
“Tarkenton had a lot of confidence in him,” Zamberletti said. “That’s the main thing in the passing game.”
In 1979, with Tommy Kramer now throwing him the ball, Rashad had 80 receptions for 1,156 yards and nine scores (all career bests) and returned to the Pro Bowl.
Then, in the midst of a 1980 season in which he collected 69 receptions for 1,095 yards and five touchdowns, Rashad cemented his legacy in Vikings lore.
No better place to recreate the Miracle at the Met 😅💦@Vikings | @NBATVAhmad pic.twitter.com/PkQbUDHDky
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) December 20, 2022
In the penultimate game of the year against the Cleveland Browns, Minnesota had the ball and was trailing at home (playing in old Metropolitan Stadium), 23-22.
In desperation, Kramer heaved a “Hail Mary” attempt from his own 46-yard line toward the end zone as time expired.
The play was designed to allow Vikings receiver Sammy White to tip the ball behind him to either Rashad or Terry LeCount.
Cleveland deployed no fewer than six defensive backs to knock down the throw.
Instead, Browns DB Thom Darden tipped the ball near the five-yard line, and the pigskin began to fall toward the turf.
Rashad happened to be running near the sideline, turned, and corralled the ball with his left hand.
@VikeFans #3 Greatest Viking Comeback. 12/14/1980 – Miracle at the Met. Down 15 (pre 2pt conversion), Vikes overcame a deficit, many missed FGs and PATs to win in on a last second 46 yard bomb from Kramer to Rashad. Vikes win NFC Central on play. @Kramer9Tommy @NBATVAhmad pic.twitter.com/boGFIGYH1t
— VikeFans (@VikeFans) December 18, 2022
By the time he clutched it into his body, Rashad was in the end zone with the improbable game-winning win, 28-23.
“I wasn’t going to allow Sammy to tip the ball, much less catch it,” Darden said. “And I ended up tipping it to Rashad.”
“It was great concentration by a great player,” Browns coach Sam Rutigliano said of the catch.
The “Miracle at the Met” helped Minnesota reach nine wins and return to the playoffs, where they were defeated by Philadelphia in the Divisional round.
The Vikings missed the postseason in 1981 with a 7-9 record, but Rashad continued his great play with 58 receptions, 884 yards, and seven touchdowns.
His stats brought him a fourth straight Pro Bowl nod.
In 1982, the NFL Players’ strike limited the season to nine games.
Packers head coach Bart Starr and Vikings WR Ahmad Rashad chew the pregame fat in Milwaukee prior to the first game after the 57-day NFLPA players' strike of 1982.
Just getting back to what they love: football, the camaraderie, and just being on that field.
39 years ago today. pic.twitter.com/ogWO5BipR4
— Kevin Gallagher (@KevG163) November 21, 2021
Rashad began to show his age and had seven starts, 23 receptions for 233 yards, and zero scores.
After the season, Ahmad Rashad retired.
During his career, Rashad had totals of 495 catches, 6,831 yards, and 44 touchdowns in addition to 21 kick returns for 437 yards.
He was a Rookie of the Year, Second-team All-Pro once, and a four-time Pro Bowler.
Rashad has since been named one of the 50 Greatest Vikings and has been selected for the Vikings’ Ring of Honor and the franchise’s 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams.
“He was the ultimate of smooth, with great hands, great instincts, knew how to work a defensive back, and nobody could cover him,” Tarkenton added about Rashad. “Beyond that, he’s just such a quality human being, but he’s in the select group because he was as great of a football player as we’ve ever had in our history.”
Rashad’s Second Career
Not long after retiring, NBC and ABC hired the likable and personable Rashad as a reporter to cover MLB, NBA, and NFL games as well as the 1996 Olympics.
Rashad’s work as an analyst led him to meet and befriend some of the best athletes in the world.
He became close friends with Michael Jordan and other notable stars and was chosen by then-NBA commissioner David Stern to host a new show devoted to the league.
I will never forget when the 76ers let Ahmad Rashad practice and actually play in a preseason game pic.twitter.com/oiss5uKVfL
— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) March 14, 2019
In order to promote the new half-hour show, NBA Inside Stuff, in 1990, Rashad signed a two-day contract with the Philadelphia 76ers and played in a preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Even though he was 40 years old at the time, Rashad scored two points during the contest.
“I definitely replayed this one in my head for quite some time,” Rashad said. “My teammates set me up on the left side, and when everything was on the line, I nailed it.”
The promotion worked, and Inside Stuff became one of the most-watched programs of the decade, bringing Rashad a host of Emmy nominations.
As the NBA grew in fame due to the likes of Jordan, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, and more, Rashad gave fans behind-the-scenes access to the sport.
Michael Jordan throws a football 65 yards while behind the scenes during an 'NBA Inside Stuff with Ahmad Rashad' episode. #TBT 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Oonpld1DFR
— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) October 11, 2018
He hosted the show for 16 years.
Marriage to “Claire Huxtable”
While he was playing football, Rashad met comedian Bill Cosby, and the two became fast friends.
In the 1980s, Cosby was the star of the hit television sitcom The Cosby Show.
Rashad took a strong interest in Cosby’s on-air wife, Phylicia Ayers-Allen, who played “Claire Huxtable” opposite Cosby’s “Cliff Huxtable” character.
Although he had been married twice before, Rashad asked Cosby to introduce him to Ayers-Allen.
She also had been married twice before and initially had no interest in dating again.
“My life was full with Billy (her son from a previous marriage) and the (Cosby) show,” she told People Magazine. “And I did not want to remarry. I didn’t learn anything from my previous marriages.”
It didn’t take long before Rashad won over Ayers-Allen, and they began dating.
Why didn't I know Phylicia Rashad and Ahmad Rashad are married!!?
Throwback to Thanksgiving 1985 when Ahmad Rashad asked Phylicia to marry him on live television pic.twitter.com/0tDZ65JoDq
— Anna Mae Bullock. (@CavsQueen) November 23, 2018
Then, during a Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions and Jets in 1985, Rashad proposed to Ayers-Allen on the air in front of a national audience.
“It was something I decided to do that morning. Only my producer knew I was going to do it,” he said.
Thankfully, Ayers-Allen said “yes.” They were married just a few weeks later.
During the wedding, Cosby walked Ayers-Allen down the aisle and O.J. Simpson was Rashad’s best man.
You want to see a wild photo?
Here is Bill Cosby giving away Phylicia Rashad to Ahmad Rashad whose Best Man was OJ Simpson. Phylicia's Maid of Honor was her sister Debbie Allen.
The preacher was Rev. Eugene S. Callender who fought for civil rights with Martin Luther King.. pic.twitter.com/dLYwZFsa93
— Robert Littal BSO (@BSO) May 4, 2020
Ayers-Allen took Rashad’s last name, and the couple went on to have a daughter.
They were divorced in 2001 after 16 years of marriage.
Rashad has since been married two more times.
Rashad’s Uneasy Friendships and Current Occupation
In the past few decades, Rashad’s friendships with Cosby and Simpson have come under fire.
Simpson was accused of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown-Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in 1994.
Cosby has been accused of drugging and raping dozens of women over the past several decades.
He was temporarily jailed between 2018 and 2021 due to the incidents.
When Rashad was questioned about his friendship with both men by Sports Illustrated in 2018, he mentioned that he hadn’t spoken to either of them in years and was aghast at what they had done.
“Everybody has their cross to bear,” said Rashad. “Those two guys’ crosses are pretty f—— heavy. I’m as devastated as everyone else with these two people. It’s like, holy s—. They were in chapters [of my life]. So were a lot of other people. They weren’t the main characters. I’m the main character in my own book. Those two things are just … maybe the most … oh, I can’t even describe it. It’s just … heartbreaking all around.”
Rashad is still close with Michael Jordan and currently lives with his fifth wife, Ana Luz Rodriguez-Paz, in Florida near the former NBA megastar.
Watch Ahmad Rashad's conversation with 4x NBA champion Stephen Curry for NBA Rewind now!
Only on the NBA App ⤵️https://t.co/LW4cbRqgBl pic.twitter.com/FUsAOJldd5
— NBA (@NBA) February 28, 2023
In late February 2023, it was announced by the NBA that a new show, “NBA Rewind with Ahmad Rashad,” will premiere on the NBA app.
The program will be similar to NBA Inside Stuff.
Bob Underwood says
Good stuff Ben!
Ben Donahue says
Thank you so much, Bob. I appreciate it!