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Moon starred in NFL and CFL

8/4/2006 - NFL

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.

"I have known Warren for many years and realize the many obstacles he had to overcome throughout his life in pursuit of playing quarterback. I very much appreciate the trail that Warren paved for me."
Steve McNair, Ravens QB on Warren Moon

"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."