Warren Moon was born in Los Angeles and was raised predominantly by his mother after his father passed away at the age of seven. Growing up with six sisters and mom who worked full time forced Moon to do whatever necessary to aid his family. When growing up Warren Moon decided he could play just one high school sport, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to work enough hours in order help take care of his family.
He ended up choosing to play quarterback on his high school football team. Moon knew immediately that he was athletic enough to get the starting quarterback position and did so in his junior year. As a senior he led his team to the playoffs and was also named to the all-city team. Moons decision to try playing football proved to be a fateful one.
Moon’s passing ability landed him at the University of Washington, where he threw for 1,772 yards and 12 touchdowns in 1977, and beat Michigan in the 1978 Rose Bowl. He was also declared that game’s Most Valuable Player and was on to his next challenge, the National Football League (NFL). However, breaking into the NFL proved to be challenging.
Moon was considered small and slow as far as professional quarterback go. It was popular belief at that time that black athletes could not play quarterback at the elite level. Moon didn’t go straight into the NFL due to lack of interest. Instead, he signed with the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League (CFL), and helped lead the Eskimos to the Grey Cup each year from 1978 to 1982. He was also the first pro quarterback to pass for 5,000 yards in a season. For Moon, this not only opened the door to the NFL, but generated him a ton of interest from NFL coaches and teams that otherwise was non-existent.
Moon went from a quarterback who wasn’t on anyone’s radar 5 years prior to finding himself in the middle of a bidding war among NFL teams. When the dust settled, the Houston Oilers prevailed in acquiring Moon. In his first season with the Oilers in 1984, he threw for 3,338 yards. In 1987, Moon played in his first postseason game; beating the Seahawks 23-20 in a wildcard-round, overtime win.
Then in 1989, he signed a 5-year, $10 million contract extension. Moon posted impressive stats with the Oilers, leading the league in passing yards in 1990 with 4,689, and 1991 with 4,690. In 1992, the Oilers beat the Bills in the last game of the season, but lost to them in the first round of the American Football Conference (AFC) playoffs in overtime. However, it was in the same AFC playoff game that Moon set the new postseason record of 36 completions.
In 1993, the Oilers went 12-4 and won the AFC championship, but later lost to Kansas City in the playoffs. That was Moon’s last season as an Oiler, but he left the franchise with a record 70 wins. He was traded to Minnesota, where he missed half the 1996 season with injuries. After that his career started on a downhill slide. Brad Johnson took his spot as starting quarterback, and Moon refused a lesser offer to act as Johnson’s backup, leading to his release. Moon spent a few years with the Seahawks and Kansas City, and finally chose retirement in 2001.
Warren Moon’s stats are mind-blowing. In his NFL career, he made 3,988 completions for 49,325 yards, and 291 total touchdown passes. His average quarterback rating was 80.9. He gained 1,736 yards rushing, and even 22 rushing touchdowns.
Moon was ultimately selected to both the NFL Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. He was the first undrafted player and the first black player to achieve both of these monumental feats. He was also invited to 9 Pro Bowl games, and was Pro Bowl MVP in 1997. The Tennessee Titans, formally known as the Houston Oilers franchise, retired his number.
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Warren Moon is definitely one of the best quarterbacks to be always a bridesmaid, never a bride. But ironically, he received a Super Bowl ring as a Seattle Seahawks broadcaster in 2013. A minor technicality, so I made the executive decision to still include Moon into the list of great NFL Quarterbacks who have never won a Super Bowl.
A fun fact that many people may not know is that Warren Moon mentored Cam Newton and played a big role in his current success. Cam Newton has continued to mature and increase his stats every year in the NFL. Having already gone to a Super Bowl in his young career, I believe Newton will eventually win a ring. Lets hope Moon’s ‘never won a Super Bowl’ juju doesn’t rub off on Newton.