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Philadelphia natives DJ Moore, D'Andre Swift excited to be reunited with Bears

DJ Moore - DAndre Swift quote graphic 1

Three weeks before the NFL's free agency period opened up in March, Bears receiver DJ Moore reached out to an old friend — Pro Bowl running back D'Andre Swift, who was set to hit the open market.

Moore inquired about Swift's interest in playing for the Bears, but due to the hectic nature of free agency, the running back never responded. So, when Moore heard the news March 11 that his fellow Philadelphian was the Bears' first free agency acquisition, he immediately picked up the phone again.

"I called him, and I was like, 'dude, I just asked you this a couple weeks ago and you didn't answer me,'" Moore recalled. "And he just started laughing."

Moore was the first person to reach out to Swift on the day he agreed to come to Chicago. Hearing from his childhood friend, who Swift viewed as a big brother growing up, felt like a full circle moment.

"It was amazing," Swift said. "Just being around somebody now that I grew up with, who I'm real familiar with, just the same mindset and same work ethic, I know who I'm gonna be in the locker room with, it's more of a comfortable feeling."

The now-NFL veterans first met while running club track for opposing teams when Moore was 9 years old, and Swift was 7 years old. Their bond was formed by something simple — speed.

"He was fast, so I knew of him because all the fast people would get along with each other," Moore added.

Over time, their relationship evolved from competitors on the track to friends who attended football camps together to teammates on Philly's Playmakers — a 7-on-7 football team for some of the top young players in the city. Both Moore and Swift have fond memories of their time as teammates while winning plenty of games together.

"I was in 8th grade when we were on the same team," Swift said. "That was the high school team — DJ was a sophomore and I played up. I played receiver, so I remember just being able to do a various amount of things together. We were always good teammates together. We had this thing called Skills Academy and all the nice players in Philly came together on Sundays and we did 1-on-1s and different drills. I would always go on defense, trying to stick DJ, little stuff like that. We would race and little stuff like that just to make it fun."


During their time with the Playmakers, Moore and Swift were coached by Albie Crosby — founder of the team and then-head football coach at Imhotep Institute Charter High School — who was one of the only people to know both Moore and Swift personally and as teammates.

Growing up and playing football as kids in Philadelphia with Swift's father, Darren, Crosby has known D'Andre since he was an eight-year-old kid playing little league football. He remembers Darren always telling him that D'Andre was special, but Crosby knew it was difficult to fully evaluate a kid's real skillset at that age. Most of the time in little league, the fastest kid would get the ball, run around the corner and take off, but that wasn't necessarily what the future will hold.

However, D'Andre quickly became the outlier. Crosby believes D'Andre's greatness in high school — he led St. Joseph's Prep to three state titles in four years — was always apparent due to his natural strength and speed combined with his "burning desire to be great."

"The difference between D'Andre and everybody else was when kids got to high school, they got the ball, they got around the corner and they got caught," Crosby said. "But D'Andre just kept outrunning everybody. He's done it since he went to Georgia, he did it when he was with Detroit, then he did it when he with the Eagles, and I'm looking forward to him doing it when he's at the Bears. So, he just still hasn't gotten caught."

Crosby saw Moore chart his path a little differently. When Moore was a freshman at Imhotep, Crosby coached at West Catholic. After it was announced West Catholic would close the following year, Crosby joined Imhotep and was Moore's head coach for the next three seasons.

Moore was also a talented player growing up. He excelled as a receiver running the ball on jet sweeps and, according to Crosby, also had a knack for kicking. Yet he had only a handful of receptions during his first two years at Imhotep. But the summer before Moore's junior year, Crosby saw him "transform overnight."

"We were at the Philadelphia Skills Academy and DJ made this one catch against [former NFL cornerback] John Reid, and ever since that, he just took off," Crosby said. "He had a little bounce in his step, and he just became what you what you see now — Denniston Moore.

"He has a quiet confidence. If you see DJ play, DJ really believes there's no one that can cover him. I think that's the one thing that both of them have in common is that D'Andre feels like nobody can tackle him and DJ feels like nobody can cover him."

While Crosby has endless memories of Moore and Swift on different teams, he also remembers them as special teammates and friends.

"The biggest thing about it was they both loved football," Crosby said. "They both just had fun playing, and they both were excited about playing football. This is a time that was a little bit before social media got so huge, so they just wanted to play. Both of them wanted to play, and they both were very, very good. They just had fun."

DJ Moore (left, circled) and D'Andre Swift (right, circled) during their time with Philly's Playmakers in 2013.
DJ Moore (left, circled) and D'Andre Swift (right, circled) during their time with Philly's Playmakers in 2013.

The year after Moore and Swift's time together on the Playmakers, the pair went head-to-head when their high school teams participated in a scrimmage. While Imhotep came away with the win, Swift stood out and Moore took notice.

"It was like, 'dang, I knew he was good, but I didn't know he was that good,'" Moore said. "When I saw him and actually got to see what he was about in high school, it was like, 'woah. This is going to be something serious,' and he was only a freshman."

As Swift was beginning to create his high school legacy at just 14 years old, Moore was garnering national attention as an ESPN three-star recruit who was earning scholarship offers from Maryland, Indiana and Boston College.

Moore committed to the Terrapins and quickly built a name for himself at the college level, appearing in all 12 games as a freshman in 2015, leading the team in receiving yards and touchdowns as a sophomore in 2016 before earning Big Ten Receiver of the Year honors as a junior in 2017. In three short years, Moore became the face of success for the younger Philadelphia athletes.

"He was one of the first ones that made it out and did it the right way," Swift said. "In Philly, it's more guys making it out and fulfilling their dreams now. But when we were in high school, it wasn't really too many. It was a couple guys that came before me, but watching DJ and how he did it, how he went to college, his success that he had in college and seeing the success he had early on in the league, gave us young kids coming out of Philly hope. Because we were once on the same field, on the same team, it was like, 'if bro could do it, I could do it.'"

Even as Moore transitioned into the NFL — going No. 24 overall to the Panthers in the 2018 NFL Draft — he remained close to his roots and the people who were close to him growing up.

When Swift began his college career at Georgia in 2017, Moore remained an avid supporter of his friend and watched as many games as he could. He took pride in knowing Swift was a special player before the rest of the nation became equipped to the running back's star power.

"When he was going crazy, I was watching him even before that," Moore said. "But it was amazing to see because he was still doing the same things he was doing in 7-on-7 out there on the big stage — making people look silly while he was juking them."

Swift followed in Moore's footsteps — spending just three years in college before heading for the Draft and getting selected No. 35 overall in 2020 by the Detroit Lions.

"It was amazing," Moore said of seeing Swift get drafted. "I knew he had the talent. I thought he would go higher than he did, but I'm just glad that he made it to the NFL and is living out his dream."

Now, Moore and Swift are living out those childhood dreams together and gearing up for their first season as teammates in over a decade.


Bears fans will get a preview of the duo later this month at training camp, but Crosby already knows his former players are primed for a special year together not just as playmakers in a new Bears offense, but as representation for the Philadelphia community.

"It's two high character people," Crosby said. "You're getting the best of Philly when you get those two. They're two high character people, two people that are gonna want to do everything for the Chicago community and represent the Chicago brand.

"I expect is a lot of excitement [this year]. Between the two of those guys, anywhere on the field, you could have somebody score a big play. They're both that. I think the Bears are gonna be extremely exciting this year with all the additions — it's a really scary football team. And not only do you have just two really good football players, you have two phenomenal human beings."

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