Warren Moon

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For the soccer player, see Warren Moon (footballer).
Warren Moon
Color head-and-shoulders photograph of African-American man (Warren Moon) wearing a navy blazer and open-collar white tattersall shirt.
Moon at Halo 3 launch in Seattle
No. 1
Position: Quarterback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1956-11-18) November 18, 1956 (age 60)
Place of birth: Los Angeles, California
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 221 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school: Los Angeles (CA) Hamilton
College: Washington
Undrafted: 1978
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
TDINT: 291–233
Passing yards: 49,325
Passer rating: 80.9
Player stats at NFL.com
Career CFL statistics
TD–INT: 144–77
Passing yards: 21,228
Player stats at PFR

Harold Warren Moon (born November 18, 1956) is a former American professional gridiron football quarterback who played for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL), and the Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). He is currently the color commentator for the Seahawks radio network, working alongside Steve Raible. He was the first African-American quarterback inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as the first undrafted quarterback ever to be enshrined there.[1]

When Moon retired, he held several all-time professional gridiron football passing records. He held the record for most pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, and touchdowns, all of which have since been broken. Moon's passing yards record of 70,553 was surpassed by Damon Allen of the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts on September 4, 2006.[2] His mark of 435 total touchdown passes was topped by Brett Favre on November 22, 2007, when Favre was playing for the Green Bay Packers. Favre later topped Moon's career completion record on December 23, 2007,[3] and succeeded him as the quarterback with the most pass attempts in professional football history on December 14, 2008 when Favre was playing for the New York Jets.

In 2010, Moon started Sports 1 Marketing with his business partner David Meltzer.

Early years[edit]

Moon was born in Los Angeles, 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.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

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.[4][8]

College career[edit]

Out of high school, Moon decided to attend West Los Angeles College 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 Washington, 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 lacked either the size, speed, or strength to play other positions.[10] The Huskies went 11–11 in Moon's first two seasons as a starter, but during his senior year, he led the Don James-coached Huskies to a 27–20 win over the favored Michigan Wolverines in the 1978 Rose Bowl 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[edit]

Year Comp Att Comp % Yards TD INT Long
1975 48 112 39.0 587 2 2 78[11]
1976 81 175 46.3 1,106 6 8 50[11]
1977 125 223 56.3 1,772 12 9 54[11]

Professional career[edit]

Canadian Football League[edit]

Despite his collegiate success, Warren Moon went undrafted in the National Football League. 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 a record five consecutive Grey Cup victories in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1982.[12] Moon won the offensive Grey Cup Most Valuable Player award in the 1980 and 1982 games. Moon became the first professional quarterback to pass for 5,000 yards in a season by reaching exactly 5,000 yards in 1982. 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.

National Football League[edit]

Moon (left) playing with teammate Mike Rozier for the Houston Oilers in 1987.

Moon's decision to enter the NFL touched off a bidding war for his services, won by the Houston Oilers (which were coached by Hugh Campbell, his former coach in Edmonton). However, Moon had a difficult adjustment period. Even so, he still threw for a franchise-record 3,338 yards in his first season with the Oilers, in 1984. In 1986, when Oilers head coach Jerry Glanville found ways to best use Moon's strong arm, 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 five-year, $10-million contract extension, which made him the highest-paid player in the National Football League at that time.[13] 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 yards ever in a single game.[14] The following year, he again led the league in passing yards, with 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 1992, Moon played only 11 games due to injuries, but the Oilers still managed to achieve 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 four 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. The Bills managed to storm back, though, with five 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. The Bills' rally from a 32-point deficit[15] 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 four touchdowns, with two interceptions. His 36 completions was an NFL postseason record.

The 1993 season 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 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 also left the Oilers as the franchise leader in passing touchdowns, passing yards, pass attempts, and pass completions, all of which still stand today.

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. 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.[16] Moon then signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent. 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.[17] He played in only three games in two 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.[18] Warren Moon also held individual NFL lifetime records for most fumbles recovered (56) and most fumbles made (162), but this was surpassed by Brett Favre in 2010.[19] Moon was in the top five all-time when he retired for passing yards, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, and pass completions.[20]

During his NFL career, Warren Moon was named to 9 Pro Bowl games (1988–1995, 1997). He currently works as a broadcaster for the Seattle Seahawks on both TV and radio. On the radio, he is a play-by-play announcer with former Seattle Seahawks receiver Steve Raible, who is the lead play-by-play announcer and evening anchor/sports anchor for KIRO-TV in Seattle. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, becoming both the first Canadian Football Hall of Famer, first undrafted quarterback, and first African-American quarterback to be so honored; he was elected in his first year of eligibility. The Tennessee Titans retired his number at halftime on October 1, 2016 vs the Dallas Cowboys.[citation needed] Moon won his first Super Bowl ring[when?] as a broadcaster for the Seattle Seahawks.[21]

In March 2011, Moon stepped back in the limelight while working as a "mentor" to Cam Newton, who was picked first overall in the 2011 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers. Moon publicly stated that Newton was being unfairly criticized for character flaws, lack of experience, and low football IQ, and that the only reason that Newton was being targeted by football analysts and sports writers was because he is African-American.

Professional career statistics[edit]

CFL statistics[edit]

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

NFL statistics[edit]

NFL Legend
Led the league
AP NFL MVP & Offensive Player of the Year
Bold Career high
Year Team G Comp Att Yards Pct TD Int Sck-Yds Rate
1984 HOU 16 259 450 3,338 57.6 12 14 47–371 76.9
1985 HOU 14 200 377 2,709 53.1 15 19 46–366 68.5
1986 HOU 15 256 488 3,489 52.5 13 26 41–332 62.3
1987 HOU 12 184 368 2,806 50.0 21 18 25–198 74.2
1988 HOU 11 160 294 2,327 54.4 17 8 12–120 88.4
1989 HOU 16 280 464 3,631 60.3 23 14 35–267 88.9
1990 HOU 15 362 584 4,689 62.0 33 13 36–252 96.8
1991 HOU 16 404 655 4,690 61.7 23 21 23–174 81.7
1992 HOU 11 224 346 2,521 64.7 18 12 16–105 89.3
1993 HOU 15 303 520 3,485 58.3 21 21 34–218 75.2
1994 MIN 15 371 601 4,264 61.7 18 19 29–235 79.9
1995 MIN 16 377 606 4,228 62.2 33 14 38–277 91.5
1996 MIN 8 134 247 1,610 54.3 7 9 19–122 68.7
1997 SEA 15 313 528 3,678 59.3 25 16 30–192 83.7
1998 SEA 10 145 258 1,632 56.2 11 8 22–140 76.6
1999 KC 1 1 3 20 33.3 0 0 0–0 57.6
2000 KC 2 15 34 208 44.1 1 1 5–46 61.9
NFL Career 208 3,988 6,823 49,325 58.4 291 233 458–3,415 80.9
Postseason 10 259 403 2,834 64.3 17 14 n/a-n/a 85.8


Personal life[edit]

Moon at the Madden NFL 07 release party

Moon married the former Felicia Fontenot Hendricks, who he had known since they were 16 years old, on March 8, 1981. In 1994, a former Vikings cheerleader accused Moon of sexually harassing her and the case was quickly settled out of court.[23] In 1995, Moon was arrested after a domestic violence incident with his wife at their home.[24] Moon was acquitted after his wife testified that she initiated the violence and that he was trying to restrain her.[25] They divorced in 2001 after not living together for two years prior to that.[26] They had four children together. Moon's daughter, Blair, was a member of Tulane's women's volleyball team.

Moon married Mandy Ritter in 2005. They have a son together.

Moon appeared in the film Any Given Sunday in a cameo role as the head coach from New York.

On April 6, 2007, Moon was arrested for suspicion of DUI after being stopped for speeding in Kirkland, 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.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://seattlemedium.com/warren-moon-first-african-american-quarterback-inducted-in-to-pro-football-hall-of-fame/
  2. ^ "Damon Allen Career Stats". Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  3. ^ "Brett Favre Career Stats". Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  4. ^ a b "Warren Moon". Contemporary Black Biography. The Gale Group, Inc. 2006. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  5. ^ Plaschke, Bill (2006-07-30). "Moon Made His Position Clear From Start". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  6. ^ Bishop, Greg (2006-07-30). "The man that is Moon". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  7. ^ George, Thomas (1990-10-21). "Moon: He Wears No. 1, And He's Playing Like It". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  8. ^ a b "Warren Moon Biography". sports.jrank.org. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  9. ^ "Warren Moon's enshrinement speech transcript". Pro Football Hall of Fame. 2006-08-05. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  10. ^ "How Warren Moon Improved His Athleticism In High School". Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  11. ^ a b c "2015 Washington Media Guide" (PDF). University of Washington. p. 112. Retrieved February 16, 2016. 
  12. ^ "CFL Legends >> Warren Moon". Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  13. ^ "Moon Says New Pact Is Richest in N.F.L.". New York Times. 1989-04-08. Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  14. ^ "Individual Records: Passing". NFL Records. 
  15. ^ "Bills and Eagles Turn Mountains Into Molehill; Buffalo Erases 32-Point Deficit". New York Times. January 4, 1993. Retrieved July 12, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Vikings Release Moon". The New York Times. 1997-02-22. Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  17. ^ "Moon Joins Chiefs". The New York Times. 1999-04-27. Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  18. ^ "Passing Leaders". 
  19. ^ "History". Nfl.com. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  20. ^ "Football records and Leaderboards". 
  21. ^ https://www.facebook.com/HWarrenMoon1/photos/pb.130853760294587.-2207520000.1415605023./764730766906880/?type=3&theater
  22. ^ "Husky Legends Come Alive in New Stadium". University of Washington. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  23. ^ http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20101266,00.html
  24. ^ "PRO FOOTBALL;Records Contradict Moons' Statements". The New York Times. 1996-02-16. 
  25. ^ Murphy, Kate (1996-02-23). "PRO FOOTBALL;Jury Rapidly Acquits Moon of Spousal Abuse Charges". The New York Times. 
  26. ^ http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Moons-file-for-divorce-2003582.php
  27. ^ "Hall of Famer Moon pleads guilty to negligent driving". Retrieved 2008-01-29. [dead link]

External links[edit]