Moon starred in NFL and CFL
There are no Super Bowls on Warren Moon's resume. Only championships.
Sure, they came in the CFL, five of them in his six seasons up north. But Moon on Saturday will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where achievements anywhere in the pros are recognized.
Not that Moon was a slacker in the NFL, mind you. He was so good with the Oilers, Vikings, Seahawks and Chiefs in 17 seasons and 208 games that Moon ranked third in passing attempts, completions, yardage and total offense when he retired after the 2001 season. He was fourth with 291 touchdown passes. In all, he had 60,553 yards through the air.
Still, the foundation of a career that led to first-year election into the Canton shrine -- Moon is the first black quarterback to make the Hall of Fame -- came with the Edmonton Eskimos.
"I think they definitely played a part because it showed that I did have championship abilities in me," Moon said. "I think the consistency that I had in the NFL as far as being able to get to the playoffs so many times in a row showed consistency that I could win.
"Now the championship, yeah that takes you to the next level. Sometimes guys get a championship and they're considered maybe a little bit better than what they are. I think the consistency and production are just as important. But no question about it, championships are what you play the game for. I definitely played it for that."
Moon never really came close to an NFL title, while each of the other five inductees this weekend -- Reggie White, Troy Aikman, Rayfield Wright, Harry Carson and John Madden -- won at least one Super Bowl. Moon's overall numbers, however, have Hall of Fame written everywhere.
Does that make up for no rings?
"I don't think it will ever take the place of not winning a Super Bowl," he said. "It's a team game and it's a team award winning a championship; the Hall of Fame to me is more of an individual award within a team game. I think the two are very different. This validated me as an individual player. ... Not having that championship ring will be something I always wished I had, only because that's the main reason you play this game."
Moon takes special pride in being the first black quarterback in the Hall. He anticipates many more will follow.
"Now I'm the first to get to the Hall of Fame, which is considered the pinnacle," he said. "We've kind of done it at every particular level, and nothing can be said about the African-American quarterback and whether he belongs in the National Football League and whether he belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."
In college, Moon led Washington to a 27-20 win over Michigan in the 1978 Rose Bowl. But the Huskies ran a wide-open, rollout offense that many NFL coaches and scouts believed did not translate to the pros. Plus, in '78, the path to the pros was filled with obstacles for black quarterbacks.
So Moon, who made it clear he wanted to remain a quarterback, wasn't drafted. He had no choice but to head to Canada, where he became a dominant QB -- and a champion.
"I thought I had done enough in my college career to at least warrant getting drafted at a pretty good position in the draft," Moon recalled without a trace of bitterness. "Because there was so much opposition as far as me playing another position and possibly not getting drafted ... that's one of the reasons I chose the Canadian Football League, because they were giving me an opportunity to play quarterback and giving me an opportunity to play early."
By 1984, they couldn't keep Moon out of the NFL. The Oilers signed him and began building the run-and-shoot attack around a mobile, strong-armed and experienced player.
While Moon didn't perceive himself as a trailblazer, others certainly did. Moon, Doug Williams and Randall Cunningham became the torch bearers for the black quarterback.
There have been dozens of blacks at the position in the NFL, and any notion that a minority player couldn't handle the position has long since been proved ridiculous.
"I have known Warren for many years and realize the many obstacles he had to overcome throughout his life in pursuit of playing quarterback," Ravens QB Steve McNair said. "I very much appreciate the trail that Warren paved for me.
"Growing up wanting to play quarterback, he was an inspiration to me and my brothers. Minority quarterbacks were few and far between, but Warren's play ensured that those coming behind him wouldn't have to change positions to find a place in the NFL."
Moon did have to go elsewhere to prove himself. He did such a good job that he's now headed to Canton.
"This just makes me feel like I worked hard to get to where I am right now," he said. "I took a very unconventional route to get to the National Football League first, and re-establish myself and have a pretty productive career.
"The way I did it was a little bit different because of the other things I had to overcome that didn't have anything to do with football."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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