Moore honors O'Neal's memory after starting NFL career

May, 29, 2009
5/29/09
8:50
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Former Missouri defensive back William Moore is intent on honoring the memory of his late college teammate, Aaron O'Neal, after starting his new NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons.

Moore has arranged to wear O'Neal's old number with his new NFL team, according to J. Michael Moore of AtlantaFalcons.com. (Hat tip: Columbia Daily Tribune) 

Moore originally was assigned the number 24 after reporting to his new team. But he lobbied teammate Von Hutchins to wear the uniform number 25 that O'Neal wore before he died following a summer conditioning workout four years ago.

"Whenever I feel like I can't go the extra step, I think about Aaron and what he put on the line," Moore told AtlantaFalcons.com.

Hutchins agreed to give Moore the number in exchange for a donation to the Lupus Foundation of America. Hutchins' mother suffers from the chronic inflammatory disease. Hutchins, a six-year NFL veteran, is an avid supporter of the foundation's Georgia chapter.

"It will be a great opportunity for both of us to do something that's special to both of our hearts," Hutchins said.

It won't be the first time that Moore has worn O'Neal's former jersey number. He wore a nameless No. 25 jersey -- as did several other Missouri players before each game last season -- before the team's final home game against Kansas State.

Moore told O'Neal's father, Lonnie, at Missouri's spring game earlier this year that he planned to wear his son's jersey number wherever he ended up in the NFL. He was selected in the second round by the Falcons several weeks later.

And now, he's made it happen.

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