Moon is Hall-of-Fame bound

It's been a long journey for Warren Moon. He played quarterback for five different teams in two different leagues, threw for thousands of yards and broke down many racial barriers along the way. Today he completed his sports journey and he is now a member of the NFL Hall-of-Fame.

Moon becomes the first black quarterback to be elected into the Hall and he spoke to those who came before and who will come after him.

"To be the first African-American quarterback into the Hall of Fame, all African-American QBs who played before me should share in this," Moon said. "I don't want to make this a racial thing, but I think it is significant. It shows that we have arrived at the pinnacle of our sport."

He joins Troy Aikman, Harry Carson, John Madden, Rayfield Wright and the late Reggie White in the Class of 2006

Moon's journey to Canton, Ohio started in southern California where he starred as a two-way player at Hamilton High School. He was heavily recruited as a senior, but most of the schools interested wanted to change him to a different position, following the trend of moving black quarterbacks to a different part of the field.

One school was willing to give him his shot as a signal-caller and he signed his letter-of-intent with the University of Washington. A new head coach, Don James, took over in early 1975 and quickly named Moon his starting quarterback and he rewarded the faith of his head coach by taking the Husky football team to their first Rose Bowl in 13 years, defeating the powerful Michigan Wolverines 27-20 on January 1st, 1978. He was named the MVP of that game and appeared to have proven the doubters wrong by leading his team to a Pac 10 championship.

But fate has a funny way of letting us know that we haven't "made it yet".

When it came time to be drafted in the 1978 NFL Draft, Moon was passed over by all 28 teams in the league so he took his talent north of the border and signed with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. There, Moon led the Eskimos to an unprecedented five consecutive Grey Cups (the championship for the CFL) and had a career worth being inducted into the CFL Hall-of-Fame in 2001.

It wasn't until 1984 that Moon was given the chance to take snaps in the "lower 48" when he signed a free agent contract with the Houston Oilers. It took a bit of an adjustment for the five-year CFL veteran because the NFL's field was narrower and shorter than the one up north. It wasn't until 1986 that the Oilers began to understand the talent of their starting signal-caller.

Oilers head coach Jerry Glanville directed his offensive coordinator to design an offense that could utilize Moon's strong arm and excellent decision-making skills. They came up with a spread attack that included four and five-receiver sets including stalwart receivers like Drew Hill, Ernest Givens and Haywood Jeffries and he went on to set numerous team and personal records.

Then in 1994, at the age of 38, he was traded to the Minnesota Vikings where he teamed with WR Cris Carter to throw for over 4,200 yards in both of his two full seasons with the squad. He missed half of the next season with a broken collarbone and then signed with his adopted hometown team as a free agent.

As the Seahawks' signal-caller, Moon led a once moribund franchise to brink of the playoffs his first season (1997), leading them to an 8-8 record and passing for more yards (3,678) and touchdowns (25) than anyone over the age of 40. The 1998 season was marred by injury and he eventually was replaced before the end of the season.

In 1999 he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs and played in three games in two years, finally retiring after an illustrious 22-year career in 2001.

He finished his career in the NFL with 3,988 completions for 49,325 yards (the fourth-highest total in NFL history), 291 touchdown passes, 1,736 yards rushing, and 22 rushing touchdowns.

When you include his CFL stats, Moon is by far the most prolific passer in professional football history. He completed 5,357 for 70,553 yards and 435 touchdowns.

For a quarterback who many never thought shouldn't play the position, Moon set the standard for quarterbacks of any color. He defied the odds and story is one of patience and determination in the face of insurmountable odds.

His totals may never be eclipsed, but even if they ever are no one can take away the hurdles that Moon had to overcome to get to this ultimate goal of any player – the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame.

Congratulations Mr. Moon. We salute you.

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