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New Charger Can Serve Team Well

Moll, a guard, doubles as bartender with refined palette

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    San Diego Chargers guard Tony Moll, signed on Nov. 15, 2011, appeared in 60 games from 2006-2010 with the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens. A former bartender with a wine label, he started 12 games at right guard, seven at right tackle and two at tight end.

    In August, the San Diego Chargers released Legacy, an 80-percent Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, made to honor the franchise's 50 years of city operation.

    Good wine.

    Now, they have a player qualified to pour it.

    Before joining the Chargers this week, guard Tony Moll was your friendly neighborhood bartender at a family-owned pizza restaurant in his hometown of Sonoma, Calif. He also assisted the business, named The Red Grape, in its ongoing expansion to a second location.

    "I just wanted to have fun," the 6-foot-5 Moll said with a laugh. "I worked hard enough for a long time."

    Which isn't to say he stopped working hard.

    A final cut of the Jacksonville Jaguars training camp, Moll, 28, kept in shape by running and lifting, being selective on his next NFL home with hopes of staying in-state. On Tuesday, he signed with the Chargers, wrecked with injuries on the offensive line, and is one of two candidates to start at right guard Sunday when they face the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

    Regular starter Louis Vasquez is listed as doubtful with a high left ankle sprain suffered last week against the Oakland Raiders. Coach Norv Turner said Friday the decision on who starts will be made Saturday morning.

    Rookie Stephen Schilling, a sixth-round draft pick, is also in the mix.

    "We'll let them know, but we're going to need both of those guys to play," Turner said.

    Bashing helmets with blitzing Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher would be a change-of-pace from serving beer and wine, handling take-out and helping Sam Morphy, the restaurant owner and his father-in-law, devise a wine list.

    Morphy says the employees will be cheering for Moll, but since neither of the restaurant's two televisions are subscribed to an NFL all-access service, they must view the game elsewhere.

    "I canceled it this year because I didn't think he was going to be playing," Morphy said, "so we'll go to a sports bar somewhere here in town. We were hoping (he'd play), obviously, but he was waiting for the right opportunity. Being a California boy on a California team, I think, is really the right fit for him."

    Moll, one of three offensive linemen drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2003, interestingly has his own wine label. He shares it with the other two draft classmates, Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz.

    The name: Three Fat Guys.

    "We're in our second vintage now," Moll said of the Napa Valley 100-percent Cabernet Sauvignon. "It's going well. Hopefully we'll be able to get it down here now."

    Three Fat Guys vs. Legacy.

    Taste-off, anyone?