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Harold Warren Moon (born November 18, 1956 in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker) is a former American and Canadian football quarterback who played for the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos and the National Football League's Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. He is currently a broadcaster for the Seattle Seahawks and is also a business partner with his longtime friend and agent, Leigh Steinberg at Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment out of Newport Beach, Californiamarker.

He is one of only two people to be enshrined in both the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker and Canadian Football Hall of Fame. (Former coach Bud Grant, who coached the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to four Grey Cup titles and the Minnesota Vikings to four Super Bowl games, is the other.) Moon was also the first, and currently only, modern African-American quarterback elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Moon held the record for most passing yardage in professional football until surpassed by Damon Allen on September 4, 2006, held the record for most passing touchdowns in professional football until surpassed by Brett Favre on November 22, 2007, held the record for most pass completions in professional football until surpassed by Brett Favre on December 23, 2007, and held the record for most pass attempts in professional football history until surpassed by Brett Favre on December 14, 2008.

Early years

Moon was born in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker, as the middle child amongst six sisters. His father, Harold, was a laborer and died of liver disease when Moon was seven years old. His mother, Pat, was a nurse, and Warren learned to cook, sew, iron and housekeep to help take care of the family. He decided early on that he could play only one sport in high school because he had to work the rest of the year to help the family. He chose not only to play football but to be a quarterback since he found that he could throw a football longer, harder, and straighter than anyone he knew.

He enrolled at Alexander Hamilton High School, using the address of one of his mother's friends to gain the advantages of a better academic and athletic reputation than his neighborhood high school could offer. He had little playing time until his junior year, when he took over as varsity starting quarterback. In his senior season, they reached the city playoffs, and Moon was named to the all-city team.

College career

He was recruited by a number of colleges, but some wanted to convert Moon to another position as was the norm for many major colleges recruiting black high school quarterbacks. Moon decided to attend West Los Angeles Collegemarker in 1974–75 where he was a record-setting quarterback. After Moon showed his ability at West L.A., only a handful of four-year colleges showed interest in signing him. Offensive Coordinator Dick Scesniak of the University of Washingtonmarker, however, was eager to sign the rifle-armed Moon. Moon was adamant that he play quarterback and considered himself to be perhaps a slightly above-average athlete who was either too small, too slow, or not strong enough to play other positions. The Huskies went 11–11 in Moon's first 2 seasons as a starter; but during his senior year, Moon led the Don James coached Huskies to a 27–20 win over the favored University of Michigan Wolverines in the 1978 Rose Bowlmarker and was named the game's Most Valuable Player on the strength of two short touchdown runs and a third quarter 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Robert "Spider" Gaines.

College statistics

Year Comp Att Comp % Passing TD INT
1976 81 175 46.3 1106 6 8
1977 125 222 56.3 1772 12 9

Professional career

Canadian Football League

Despite his collegiate success, Warren Moon went undrafted in the National Football League. Many pundits believe that it was because Moon was black and refused to switch positions — Moon has stated in interviews that before the draft some scouts advised him to switch to tight end. With no takers in the NFL, he turned to the Canadian Football League. Moon signed with the Edmonton Eskimos, where he and Tom Wilkinson shared signal-calling duties and helped lead the Eskimos to an unprecedented five consecutive Grey Cup victories in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982. Notably, in the 1981 Grey Cup, the quarterback of the opposing team was J.C. Watts. Moon won the offensive Grey Cup Most Valuable Player award in the 1980 and 1982 games. In his final CFL season of 1983, Moon threw for a league record 5,648 yards, and won the CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award. Throughout his CFL career, Moon amassed 1,369 completions on 2,382 attempts (57.4 completion percentage) for 21,228 yards and 144 touchdown passes. He also led his team to victory in 9 of 10 postseason games. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Edmonton Eskimos Wall of Honour. In 2006, he was ranked fifth on a list of the greatest 50 CFL players presented by Canadian sports network TSN.

CFL statistics

Year Team G Passing

Yards Pct. TD Int.
1978 Edmonton 15 173-89 1,112 0.514 5 7
1979 Edmonton 16 274-149 2,382 0.544 20 12
1980 Edmonton 16 331-181 3,127 0.547 25 11
1981 Edmonton 15 378-237 3,959 0.627 27 12
1982 Edmonton 16 562-333 5,000 0.592 36 16
1983 Edmonton 16 664-380 5,648 0.572 31 19
Totals 94 2,382-1,369 21,228 0.575 144 77

National Football League

Moon's decision to enter the NFL touched off a bidding war for his services, won by the Houston Oilers. However, with the NFL field being so much shorter and narrower than the CFL's, Moon had a difficult adjustment period. Even so, he still threw for a franchise record 3,338 yards in his first season with Oilers in 1984. It was only in 1986 when Oilers head coach Jerry Glanville found ways to best utilize Moon's strong arm that he began having success. In 1987, a season shortened by a players' strike that eliminated the third week of the regular NFL season, the Oilers posted a 9–6 record. It was the Oilers' first winning season since 1980, when Bum Phillips was the head coach and Ken "The Snake" Stabler was the quarterback. Moon then passed for 237 yards and a touchdown while leading the Oilers to a 23–20 overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round of the playoffs in his first NFL postseason game.

Before the start of the 1989 season, Moon was given a 5 year, $10 million contract extension, which made him the highest paid player in the National Football League at that time. In 1990, Moon led the league with 4,689 passing yards. He also led the league in attempts (584), completions (362), and touchdowns (33), and tied Dan Marino's record with nine 300-yard games in a season. That included throwing for 527 yards against Kansas City on December 16, 1990, the second most passing yard ever in a single game. The following year, he again led the league in passing yards 4,690. At the same time, he joined Marino and Dan Fouts as the only quarterbacks to post back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons. Moon also established new NFL records that season with 655 attempts and 404 completions. In 1991, Moon threw for a career-high 655 passes.

In 1992, Moon played only 11 games due to injuries, but still managed to lead the Oilers to a 10–6 record, including a victory over the Buffalo Bills in the final game of the season. Moon and the Oilers then faced the Bills again in the first round of the AFC playoffs. Aided by Moon's 222 passing yards and 4 touchdowns in the first half, Houston built up a 28–3 halftime lead, and then increased it to 35–3 when Buffalo quarterback Frank Reich's first pass of the third quarter was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. But the Bills managed to storm back with 5 unanswered second half touchdowns to take a 38–35 lead with time running out in the final period. Moon managed to lead the Oilers on a last second field goal drive to send the game into overtime, but threw an interception in the extra period that set-up Buffalo kicker Steve Christie's game winning field goal. It was the largest comeback victory in NFL history and is now known in NFL Lore simply as The Comeback. Moon finished the game with 36 completions for 371 yards and 4 touchdowns, with 2 interceptions.

1993 was the Houston Oilers' best season with Warren Moon under center — and it would also be his last season with the team. The Oilers went 12–4 and won the old AFC Central division crown, but lost to Joe Montana and the Kansas City Chiefs 28–20 in the divisional round of the playoffs.

As a Houston Oiler, Moon set a franchise record for wins with 70, which stood until Steve McNair broke it in 2004, long after the team had become the Tennessee Titans.

He was traded to the Minnesota Vikings after the season, where he passed for over 4,200 yards in each of his first two seasons, but missed half of the 1996 season with a broken collarbone. After the season he signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent. The Vikings' starting quarterback job was given to Brad Johnson and Moon was released after he refused to take a $3.8 million pay cut to serve as Johnson's backup. After a two year stint in the Pacific northwest, an aging Moon signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs as a backup in 1999. He played in only three games in 2 years with the Chiefs before announcing his retirement in January 2001.

Combining his NFL and CFL stats, Moon's numbers are nearly unmatched in professional football annals: 5,357 completions in 9,205 attempts for 70,553 yards and 435 touchdowns. Even if his Canadian League statistics are discounted, Warren Moon's career is still exceptional: 3,988 completions for 49,325 yards, 291 touchdown passes, 1,736 yards rushing, and 22 rushing touchdowns. Warren Moon also holds individual NFL lifetime records for most fumbles recovered 56 and most fumbles made 162.

During his NFL career, Warren Moon was named to nine Pro Bowl games (1988–1995, 1997). Moon currently works as a broadcaster for the Seattle Seahawks. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker in 2006, becoming both the first Canadian Football Hall of Famer, first undrafted quarterback and the first African-American quarterback to be so honored. Moon was elected in his first year of eligibility. The Tennessee Titans retired his number at halftime on October 1 vs the Dallas Cowboys.

NFL statistics

Year Team G Passing

Yards Pct. TD Int. Sacks-Lost Passer Rating
1984 Houston 16 450-259 3,338 0.576 12 14 47-371 76.9
1985 Houston 14 377-200 2,709 0.531 15 19 46-366 68.5
1986 Houston 15 488-256 3,489 0.525 13 26 41-332 62.3
1987 Houston 12 368-184 2,806 0.500 21 18 25-198 74.2
1988 Houston 11 294-160 2,327 0.544 17 8 12-120 88.4
1989 Houston 16 464-280 3,631 0.603 23 14 35-267 88.9
1990 Houston 15 584-362 4,689 0.620 33 13 36-252 96.8
1991 Houston 16 655-404 4,690 0.617 23 21 23-174 81.7
1992 Houston 11 346-224 2,521 0.647 18 12 16-105 89.3
1993 Houston 15 520-303 3,485 0.583 21 21 34-218 75.2
1994 Minnesota 15 601-371 4,264 0.617 18 19 29-235 79.9
1995 Minnesota 16 606-377 4,228 0.622 33 14 38-277 91.5
1996 Minnesota 8 247-134 1,610 0.543 7 9 19-122 68.7
1997 Seattle 15 528-313 3,678 0.593 25 16 30-192 83.7
1998 Seattle 10 258-145 1,632 0.562 11 8 22-140 76.6
1999 Kansas City 1 3-1 20 0.333 0 0 0-0 57.6
2000 Kansas City 2 34-15 208 0.441 1 1 5-46 61.9
Totals 208 6,823-3,988 49,325 0.584 291 233 458-3,415 80.9
Playoff Totals 10 403-259 2,834 0.643 17 14 n/a-n/a 85.8


Personal life

Moon married the former Felicia Fontenot Hendricks on March 8, 1981. Felicia's and Warren's daughter, Blair, was a member of Tulanemarker's Women's Volleyball team.

On July 18, 1995, Warren reportedly had a violent confrontation with his wife Felicia. She told detectives that he had slapped her, choked her, and chased her when she fled in a car. In a July 21 press conference, Warren apologized for a "tremendous mistake" and said he would seek counseling. Despite Felicia's refusal to press charges, Warren was arrested for misdemeanor assault and went to trial in February 1996; he was acquitted.

On April 6, 2007, Moon was arrested for suspicion of DUI after being stopped for speeding in Kirklandmarker, a suburb of Seattle. The charges were later reduced to first-degree negligent driving after Moon registered breath-alcohol levels of 0.068 and 0.067 at the police station in the hours following his arrest. Moon pleaded guilty to the negligent driving charge and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service, a $350 fine and drug and alcohol awareness classes.

On December 28, 2007, Moon was again arrested for suspicion of DUI after refusing to take a field sobriety test and breathalyzer test while being stopped for expired tags in the Seattle suburb of Medinamarker. He was also initially arrested for driving with a suspended license, but this was later dropped and attributed to incorrect data in the Washington State Department of Licensing's records. Moon pled not guilty to the DUI charges at a February 5, 2008 arraignment.

Moon's biography, Never Give Up on Your Dream: My Journey, is now available. The book, co-written by Don Yaeger, covers the ups and downs of Moon's professional career and personal life off the field.

See also


External links

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