KIRKLAND — They've never spoken, never met, never so much as given thought to how much they share in common.
But this Sunday, when the Seahawks play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Florida, two parallel lives will intersect. They belong to Rashad Moore and Anthony McFarland.
Two men. Two defensive tackles. One nickname.
Bill this one the Battle of the Boogers in Buccaneer Cove.
"That's really crazy, really coincidental," said Cedric Woodard, Moore's teammate on the Seahawks. "Both those guys are named Booger and play the same position. That's not exactly a common nickname."
How does something like this happen?
Two children grow about 450 miles apart in the South. They grow. And grow. And grow into two scholarships at separate schools in the Southeastern Conference.
They run-stuff their way into two NFL drafts, onto two NFL rosters, into two starting lineups. And finally, a little more than a year ago, they were linked together for eternity, linked not by position or even skill.
Linked by the nickname they've both embraced. Linked by one word.
"As far as I'm concerned, there's only one Booger," McFarland said by phone from Tampa yesterday. "It's been that way for a long time, man."
For as long as he can remember, McFarland hasn't responded to Anthony or Tony or any other name. He goes by the name his mom gave him at the age of 2, a nickname that has stuck for the last quarter-century, a moniker his family still uses to this day.
"I was a bad kid, getting into a lot of wild stuff," McFarland said. "I used to get called a lot of different things. But that was just the one that stuck."
For as long as he can remember, Moore has responded to Rashad or Boo. Then the Seahawks took him in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL draft, and someone told defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes about his nickname during training camp. Rhodes added an extra syllable.
Boo became Booger.
"It was a misunderstanding," Moore said this week. "But I grew into it."
Not at first. Every time Rhodes rode Moore during that training camp, it was "Booger this" or "Booger that." Apparently, it rubbed off, because Moore now refers to himself that way.
"He didn't really want to embrace his nickname when he first got it," Woodard said. "He didn't have a choice in the end, though. It kind of stuck. And now he talks about himself in the third person — 'Booger this and Booger that.' "
The similarities don't stop there. Both men stand at least 6 feet tall. Both weigh at least 300 pounds. In the battle of the Booger bulge, McFarland gives away 3 inches and 24 pounds.
Moore recorded his first career sack on Oct. 26, 2003, as a Seahawks rookie. McFarland recorded his first career sack on Nov. 28, 1999, also as a rookie, against the Seahawks.
Both are considered quick for their size. Teammates laud how well Moore moves. Tampa Bay rookie linebacker Marquis Cooper, a Washington graduate, said he could only think of one word when he watched McFarland speed into the backfield — "whoa."
Both excel at stuffing the middle of the line, forcing running backs outside, plugging holes with girth and strength.
And then that nickname.
"That's just the way the cards fell, I guess," Moore said.
But for all the things they have in common, Moore and McFarland took completely opposite paths to being considered two of the better young defensive tackles in the NFL.
McFarland, already a Booger, grew up in Winnsboro, La., played for Louisiana State and didn't have to wait long to hear his name called when the Buccaneers took him the first round of the 1999 draft.
Moore, not yet a Booger, grew up in Huntsville, Ala., played his college ball in the shadow of dominating John Henderson at Tennessee and, primarily because of concerns about his work ethic, slipped to the Seahawks in the sixth round four years later.
Moore not only made the team last season but stepped into the starting lineup after an injury to Norman Hand. He recorded 30 tackles, but the Seahawks took defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs in the first round this year.
Still, in Moore the Seahawks think they have a steal, a sixth-round player with first-round talent. And while that won't be confirmed for a few seasons, Moore did post seven tackles last week against New Orleans, chasing quarterback Aaron Brooks as far as 35 yards downfield.
"He had a good first game," coach Mike Holmgren said. "He really did. He clogged up the middle. He was in on plays. Now he's got to sustain it — he's got to sustain it for the whole season.
"For a guy his size, he moves pretty well. But again, he's still a pup. We're playing with young guys. I don't want to compliment them too much. Let's wait until they do it week after week after week after week."
But let's not get too picky here. Both Boogers are on the rise, gaining experience, staking their claim among the better young defensive tackles in the league.
McFarland is obviously further along, both in time of nickname held and stature. But who knows? Maybe the similarities continue.
"I don't know if it's weird," McFarland said. "He plays on defense. I'm on defense. We're both big guys. We're both named Booger. But my focus is on Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck and all those guys. Nothing changes because of this."
Let the Battle of the Boogers commence.
Greg Bishop: 206-464-3191 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Two Boogers: a tale of the tape|
|A comparison of the Seahawks' Rashad "Booger" Moore and the Buccanners' Anthony "Booger" McFarland:|
|"BOOGER" MOORE||Category||"BOOGER" McFARLAND|
|6 feet 3||Height||6 feet|
|324 pounds||Weight||300 pounds|
|Second year||Experience||Sixth year|
|Sixth round, 2003||Drafted||First round, 1999|
|Huntsville, Ala.||Hometown||Winnsboro, La.|
|Ray Rhodes||Nickname given by||Mother|
|Less than 2 years||Nickname held for||25 years|
|Refers to self in third person||Claim to nickname||No one calls him anything else|