Moon Felt Need to Prove and Disprove

Warren Moon remembers his days with the Minnesota Vikings as an opportunity to prove he could play in a traditional offense, and he remembers his days in the NFL as an opportunity to advance the cause of the African-American quarterback. Today, Moon officially enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Warren Moon, an intelligent quarterback that was quicker with his arm than his feet, joins Troy Aikman, Harry Carson, John Madden, Reggie White and Rayfield Wright as the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2006 today when he is inducted into the hallowed halls at Canton, Ohio.

Moon spent the 1994-96 seasons with the Vikings, throwing for more than 4,200 yards in each of his first two seasons, when he was healthy and started all but one game. In 1996, he gave way to injury after eight starts, and Brad Johnson became the starter for the second half of the season and into the near future.

But Moon remembers the Vikings as class organization, he said this week.

"I just remember the total atmosphere was a great football atmosphere to practice in and to play in," Moon said. "(Former Vikings coach) Denny Green really cared (about) the players, as far as making the environment very positive. We got a lot of good work done. You never felt like you were just there all day long and dreading it because everything was so fast-paced.

"We had some great offenses there for a couple of years under Brian Billick and Ray Sherman, and I really enjoyed playing with the guys I played with, like Cris Carter and Jake Reed, Qadry (Ismail), all the guys I played with on the offensive side of the football."

During his two healthy seasons in Minnesota, Moon completed better than 62 percent of his passes with 51 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.

After starting his professional career playing for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League and led them to an unprecedented five Grey Cup titles. He finally got his chance in the NFL and spent the next 12 years (1984-93) with the Houston Oilers. But he was never given full credit for his statistics in Houston because it was using a run-and-shoot offense known for putting up big passing numbers.

It wasn't until after he spent time in the Vikings' traditional drop-back offense and continued his impressive numbers that he thought he had a shot at the Hall of Fame.

"I put up some good numbers in Houston, and then I was able to still do pretty well my last couple of years in Minnesota after a lot of people thought my best days were over because I was 38 years old I think when I went to the Vikings. A lot of people thought I was pretty much done, but I knew I still had a lot of football left in me," he said. "It was just great to be in a situation where they were going to give me a chance to keep playing.

"Once I was able to do the same thing with another football team and in another offense – because a lot of people were just trying to label me as just a run-and-shoot guy – I went to the drop-back game there in Minnesota and still had good success."

But Moon wasn't only trying to overcome the stereotype of the run-and-shoot quarterback, he was trying to break through the perception at the time that black quarterbacks weren't likely to have success in the NFL.

He carried around a lot of social responsibilities on his shoulder pads when he took the field each time.

"I've kind of played with a little chip on my shoulder. I've always felt I had to prove myself every time I went out. I always played with this extra responsibility that I was not only playing for myself and my team, but I was playing for my race and all the other African-American quarterbacks that played before me and playing for the guys that I wanted to try and give an opportunity to after me," Moon said.

"There were a lot of things that I went out on the field with in my mind that kept me going. Sometimes it was maybe too much on my mind to have me worry about, but part of it kept my competitive fire going and then part of it was probably sometimes a distraction from keeping me to be the best player that I could be."

And still, Moon was a very good player – a Hall of Fame player.

Even after he left Minnesota following the 1996 season, he played two more seasons with the Seattle Seahawks and two more with the Kansas City Chiefs before retiring after the 2000 season.

In 17 years of service in the NFL alone, he ended his career completing 3,988 of 6,823 passes for 49,325 yards, 291 touchdowns, 233 interceptions.

His best season was in 1990, when he led the league with 4,689 yards and 33 touchdowns. In 1991, he also led the league with 4,690 yards. He ranked third all-time in NFL passing yardage and fourth in touchdown passes thrown at the time of his retirement.

And despite only starting 39 games for the Vikings, he still holds the playoff record for most pass attempts (52) and is tied for completions (29) from a 1995 playoff loss to Chicago. His 606 and 601 attempts in 1994 and 1995, respectively, still top the Vikings charts as well, along with other sundry entries in the passing categories.

Leigh Steinberg, Moon's agent and one of his current employers as well, will give the nine-time Pro Bowler's induction speech today at Canton.

Vikings Hall of Famers Carl Eller, Paul Krause and Ron Yary are also scheduled to be in Canton this weekend, along with former Viking Bob Lurtsema, owner Lenny Wilf, vice president of operations/legal counsel Kevin Warren, director of public relations Bob Hagan and fullback Tony Richardson, who played with Moon in Kansas City and become close friend with him.


  • Aikman (1989-2000) led the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles. His 90 wins in the 1990s makes him the winningest NFL quarterback of any decade.

  • Carson (1976-88) was named to nine Pro Bowls, led the New York Giants in tackles in five seasons, and was a leader of the team's daunting defense in their Super Bowl XXI title season.

  • Madden (1969-78) owns the best regular-season winning percentage of coaches with 100 wins (.759, 103-32-7). Oakland never had a losing record under him, and claimed seven division titles and the Super Bowl XI championship.

  • White (1985-2000) retired as the NFL's all-time sack leader (198). Named to 13 consecutive Pro Bowls. Nicknamed the "Minister of Defense." Won a Super Bowl XXXI ring with Green Bay.

  • Wright (1967-79) was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1970s. Played in six NFC
    Championship Games and five Super Bowls, winning two NFL titles. Chosen for Pro Bowl six years in a row.

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