Growing up in Los Angeles, California, Warren Moon was the middle child amongst six children. At a young age, although the family didn’t have much, Warren’s mother taught him how to be a genuinely good person. Whatever they had at the time, she would offer it to the kids in the neighbourhood, which included the occasional meals she would cook for families who were in financial trouble or going through a personal crisis like a death in the family.
At the time that Warren was being scouted by the colleges across the United States, only a handful of four-year colleges were interested in recruiting him as their quarterback; not because of any skills that were lacked, because there weren’t any, but because black quarterbacks were not as heavily scouted or respected at the time. With some of the schools wanting him to switch his position, Moon was adamant that he played quarterback because according to him he was too small, too slow, or just not strong enough to play the other positions. His requests were met and the University of Washington locked up the Los Angeles native for their starting quarterback position.
At the end of his college career, Moon was ready for the draft, but despite the skills he portrayed on the field, many teams in the NFL were not willing to draft him unless he was willing to switch to the tight end position. Respectfully disagreeing with their advice, Moon signed with the States’ neighbours to the North with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. Moon would spend the next six seasons playing in Canada with the Eskimos, where he made an impact from day one. In his six seasons in the CFL, Moon took home five straight Grey Cup Championships from 1978-82, a record that will most likely never be broken in any league.
After exposing his true talents to the football world in his six-year stint with the CFL, Moon was on his way back to the United States to play in the NFL. When teams got a hold of this news, it fired up a bidding war that was later won by the Houston Oilers.
“In the CFL I was lucky enough to win five straight championships, which will never be broken,” said Moon.
“But in the NFL I was able to realize I was living the dream I’ve always wanted to live since I was younger,” added the Canadian and National Football Hall of Famer.
Although it took some time for Moon to adapt to the different style of play in the NFL, he still managed to set an Oilers franchise record in his rookie season in 1984 as he threw for 3,338 yards. He would use the next couple of years as a growing and learning period. In 1986 he ended up surpassing his own passing yards record as he finished the season with 3,489 yards. That season was shortened due to a players’ strike but he led the Oilers to a 9-6 record; giving the team its first winning season since 1980. It was also the last season that Moon would throw more interceptions than touchdowns in an Oilers uniform.
The following season, Moon would lead his team back to the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Despite being hit with the injury bug and only playing in 11 games, Moon still managed to throw 17 touchdowns that year as the Oilers finished with a 10-6 record. The 1989 season would be the season that Moon broke out entirely. He was offered a new contract from the team that was worth $10 million over a span of 5 years, at the time making him the highest paid player in the NFL. That season he ended up surpassing his own franchise record again as he threw for 3,631 yards and 23 touchdowns. Aside from his spectacular play on the field, Moon took home the 1989 Man of the Year Award for his charitable work and generous efforts he put forth off the field with the Crescent Moon Foundation; his Foundation that he started up that same year.
“I think it was the biggest highlight of my career when it comes to awards I was able to achieve. It doesn’t just focus on what you accomplished on the field but what you also accomplished off the field, not just as a total athlete but a total man,” stated Moon.
The next two seasons would be full of much success for Warren. He threw for a total of 9,379 yards (4,689 and 4,690) and a total of 56 touchdowns, throwing a career-best 33 touchdown passes during the 1990 season. At the end of the 1992 season, the Oilers traded Moon to the Minnesota Vikings where he would throw for over 4,200 yards in each of his first two seasons, one of which he tied his career-best of 33 touchdown passes. After breaking his collarbone the following season, Moon ended up losing his starting job to quarterback Brad Johnson and was later released after he refused to take a $3.8 million pay cut to serve as the backup. It wouldn’t take long for Moon to find a new home as the Seahawks locked him up despite closing in on 40. During the 1997 season, Moon would become the first player in NFL history to score a touchdown over the age of 40. Following his two-year stint with the Seahawks, Moon signed a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs as their backup but only saw action in three games in his final two seasons before he called it quits.
Warren now works with the Seattle Seahawks as a co play-by-play announcer on both TV and the radio when he isn’t doing work with the Crescent Moon Foundation or Sports 1 Marketing. Through the Crescent Moon Foundation, Warren has been able to help out high school students since 1989 by handing out scholarships to those who are less fortunate.
“My agent at the time, Leigh Steinberg, stressed that his clients needed to give back to the community because they did so much for you to get that far in your professional career,” explained Moon.
“My biggest goal is to create a legacy for long after I’m gone from here. I started the scholarship back in ’89 and it has been a yearly thing ever since. We help out by giving scholarships to underprivileged high school students through fundraising,” he added.
Through the Foundation and Sports 1 Marketing, Moon hosts a celebrity-bowling event every summer to help benefit the Urban Youth Scholarship Fund in which they hand out nearly 12-15 scholarships every year. He also hosts his annual Pro Bowl party and golf outings with proceeds from these events going towards the hospital, the children cancer patients and the Crescent Moon Foundation.
“I think it’s a choice to give back but it’s a choice that they (current athletes) should make. They (the fans) helped us out so much and so much is done for us to help us get to where we are and when we get paid our big salaries it’s all thanks to the fans,” answered Moon when asked if today’s players should be giving back.
“If you have the ability to enrich peoples lives because of your name and your status then you should take advantage of it. You shouldn’t give back just because something good happened to you but because you sincerely want to.”
When Warren Moon retired from the game of football he was one of the top ranked quarterbacks of all-time. He sat in the Top 5 all-time list for passing yards, passing touchdowns, pass attempts and pass completions at the time of his retirement in 2000. His numbers that he put up in his career from both of the leagues combined were more than impressive as he finished with 5, 357 completions on 9,205 attempts; 70,553 passing yards; and threw 435 touchdowns. He is also one of two people to be inducted into both the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and the National Football Hall of Fame. Despite the numbers he put up in his career, he wants to be remembered for his work off of the field. The joy and excitement that he brought to the football world on the field will be remembered for many years to come just like his generosity and sincerity off the field that helped open the doors for many. He is now taking the wisdom and knowledge that he has gained over the years and instilling it with Cam Newton, as he has stepped up as his mentor to help guide him to a career that can one day be just as successful as his was both on and off the field.