Gold Jacket Spotlight: Warren Moon called ‘a winner on and off the field’

In contrast to the belief many so-called experts held, WARREN MOON was convinced he could be a successful NFL quarterback, and he was committed to attaining success at that position.

Not only would Warren be recognized for on-field accomplishments in college, the Canadian Football League and the National Football League, but the Los Angeles native also would make life-changing imprints on the communities he served as well.

This week’s Gold Jacket Spotlight shines on a player who would highlight his talents to the non-believers, resulting in enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

After winning the MVP Award as quarterback of the University of Washington Huskies in the 1978 Rose Bowl, all 28 NFL teams projected Warren as a wide receiver in pro football. Simply put, Warren wasn’t having any of that.

The Edmonton Eskimos (now Edmonton Elks) of the Canadian Football League agreed with Warren, and he achieved enormous success “up North” as a quarterback, including being an instrumental component of five consecutive Grey Cup championships teams.

In 1984, Warren signed as a free agent with the Houston Oilers after Ladd Herzeg, the team’s executive vice president and general manager, acknowledged, “You have to be impressed with Warren Moon. He’s a winner on and off the field.”

Writing for “Inside Sports,” Ray Buck added, “Moon is just what Houston needs, both on and off the field. He’s handsome, humble, articulate, a serious businessman who can throw, run, win.”

Warren was motivated by those who doubted his prospects of being successful in the NFL.

“When I came to the NFL, I thought a lot of people wanted to see me fail,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “I’m a Black quarterback. I was a total free agent because I wasn’t drafted by an NFL team. I beat the system in a way nobody else had. A lot of people wanted me to fail because they didn’t want to admit they made a mistake on me.”

It took little time for Warren to demonstrate others’ misjudgment of his potential.

During his initial season with the Oilers, Warren set a new club record with 3,338 passing yards, a mark he would rewrite four additional times. Employing a “run-and-shoot” offense, Warren would, as a Hall of Fame video declared, “(be) the heart of a Houston team that was one to reckon with for nearly a decade.”

At the time of his departure from Houston for the Minnesota Vikings in 1994, Warren held 16 Oilers regular-season passing records and 10 playoff records.

Off the field, Warren’s efforts were noted as well. Among them: a $200,000 gift (the entire cost) to create a community center.

“There are two kinds of people: those that wish for things to happen and those that make things happen,” said Patricia Williams, the director of the Windsor Village Methodist Church, which was the benefactor of Warren’s generosity. “Warren makes things happen on the football field and off.”

Warren continued to make things happen for the Minnesota Vikings (1994-96) Seattle Seahawks (1997-98) and Kansas City Chiefs (1999-2000).

While in Minnesota, he led the Vikings to a playoff appearance his first season and passed for more than 4,000 yards two of his three seasons with the Vikings.

At the conclusion of his Vikings career, Warren had set or tied 10 regular-season passing records and a pair of playoff records for the franchise.

Signing as a free agent with the Seahawks and returning to his college roots in Seattle, Warren set or tied eight team records.

During his 17 seasons NFL career, Warren was selected to nine Pro Bowls, threw for 49,325 passing yards and scored 291 touchdowns. When considering his CFL experience, Warren threw for more than 70,000 total yards and tallied 435 touchdowns in 23 professional seasons.

Warren is the only player enshrined in both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Canadian Football Hall of Fame. (While also in both Halls of Fame, BUD GRANT entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coach, while MARV LEVY is a coach in both.)

Whoever wanted to see Warren fail were the ones left disappointed.