Langston Moore has been fighting the battle of the bulge on many fronts for the last half of his life.
The son of Charleston radio personality Ken Moore, he watched his father die after being denied a place on a heart transplant list due to his weight.
As an NFL defensive lineman, his work environment tolerated and even celebrated excessive girth with little thought of what that weight would mean when playing days were finished.
Simply by growing up in the Palmetto State, he saw the effects of excess weight every day of his life.
“There are always a big portion of these folks who are just bigger, and you just take it for what it is,” Moore said. “In South Carolina, we have been doing good on the football field, but we are just as bad on the health side.”
Moore is now fighting back through the Eat2Win Football Camp, a one-day camp at Benedict College’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The camp is for children ages 9-17 and costs $35 before the event and $40 the day of the event.
“Football is a sport that saved me and saved a bunch of my guys and took me a lot of places in my life. I try to use that as a draw,” Moore said. “We use that as a lever to educate folks.”
Eat2Win was founded by Moore and fellow former Gamecock football players Preston Thorne and Jon Alston. This year’s event has more than 20 former South Carolina players committed to work the camp, including Erik Kimrey, Syvelle Newton, Shaq Wilson, Troy Williamson, Darrell Shropshire, Damario Jeffery, Willie Offord and Travelle Wharton.
They will be working with the campers on football drills and instilling health and nutrition lessons along the way (“Eat” stands for effort, attitude and technique). The players will be talking to one of the nation’s most at-risk groups – the children of South Carolina.
The percentage of children ages 2-4 in the state’s WIC program has grown from 13.3 percent in 2009 to 15.6 percent in 2012, and South Carolina routinely is rated among the nation’s most obese states in all age groups. The state’s rate of diabetes doubled, from 5 percent to 10 percent, from 1995 to 2010, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last year’s inaugural camp drew more than 150 participants, and organizers are hoping for 250 this year. Camp staffers also reach out to parents at the event, which can be tricky, Moore said.
“The parents are harder to influence. They are older. They are stuck in their ways,” he said. “We talk about people changing their diet, and people get offended because it deals with a lot of culture issues. People say, ‘You mean the recipe that my grandmother gave me has been killing us the last 30 years?’ That’s probably the hardest part for us. Kids are still young and eager. They hold us in higher regard, and they listen to us.”
Moore played for the Gamecocks from 1999 to 2002. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sports administration and went on to play as a defensive lineman for three NFL teams. He has watched ex-players, particularly linemen such as himself, struggle with their weight after retirement.
“It’s still a battle,” said Moore, who last played in the NFL in 2008. “The culture of football makes it OK to have a gut. In reality, you ask any doctor, any nutritionist, most of us are just ticking time bombs. This camp holds us accountable. We know we have to go out there in front of these kids and hold each other accountable. We say, ‘Man, we can’t go out there and talk to those kids with big ol’ guts.’ ”
On Aug. 28, Moore will begin his third season as South Carolina’s radio sideline reporter.
“I love it all,” Moore said. “The best part is I get to go hang on the sideline and enjoy the football. I think we are going to be good. We are kind of under the radar, because, really, everybody is expecting us to fall off. But we have a wealth of guys who were younger and played.”