Warren Moon

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Warren Moon
Color head-and-shoulders photograph of African-American man (Warren Moon) wearing a navy blazer and open-collar white tattersall shirt.
Moon in 2007
No. 1
Personal information
Born: (1956-11-18) November 18, 1956 (age 62)
Los Angeles, California
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:221 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school:Los Angeles (CA) Hamilton
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Passing yards:49,325
Completion percentage:58.4
Passer rating:80.9
Rushing touchdowns:22
Player stats at NFL.com
Career CFL statistics
Passing yards:21,228
Completion percentage:57.5
Passer rating:93.8
Rushing touchdowns:14
Player stats at PFR
Player stats at CFL.ca (archive)

Harold Warren Moon (born November 18, 1956) is a former American and Canadian football quarterback who played professionally for 23 seasons. He spent the majority of his career with the Houston Oilers of the National Football League (NFL) and the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL). Moon also played for the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL.

Moon began his professional career with the Eskimos in 1978, after going unselected in the NFL Draft. His success during his six seasons in the CFL led him to the NFL in 1984 with the Oilers.[1] Over his 17 NFL seasons, Moon was named to nine Pro Bowls and made seven playoff appearances. Following ten seasons with the Oilers, he had brief multiple-year stints with the Vikings, Seahawks, and Chiefs before retiring at age 44.

At the time of his retirement, Moon held several all-time professional gridiron football passing records. He was less successful in the NFL postseason, never advancing beyond the division round of the playoffs, although he won five Grey Cups in the CFL. Moon was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, becoming the first African-American quarterback and the first undrafted quarterback to receive the honor.

Early years[edit]

Born in Los Angeles, California, Moon was 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 to play football as a quarterback since he found that he could throw a football longer, harder, and straighter than anyone he knew.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

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 in 1973, they reached the city playoffs, and Moon was named to the all-city team.[2][6]

College career[edit]

Moon attended two-year West Los Angeles College, and was a record-setting quarterback as a freshman in 1974, but only a handful of four-year colleges showed interest in signing him. Offensive coordinator Dick Scesniak of the University of Washington in Seattle, however, was eager to sign the rifle-armed Moon. Adamant that he play quarterback, Moon considered himself to be perhaps a slightly above-average athlete who lacked either the size, speed, or strength to play other positions.[8]

Under new head coach Don James, Washington was 11–11 in Moon's first two seasons as a starter, but as a senior in 1977, he led the Huskies to the Pac-8 title and a 27–20 upset win in the Rose Bowl over Michigan.[9][10] Moon 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.[11]

College statistics[edit]

Year Comp Att Pct Yards TD Int
1975 48 112 39.0 587 2 2
1976 81 175 46.3 1,106 6 8
1977 125 223 56.3 1,772 12 9
Career 254 510 49.8 3,465 20 19

Professional career[edit]

Canadian Football League[edit]

Despite his collegiate success, Moon went unselected in the twelve-round NFL Draft. 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, and 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, he threw for a league record 5,648 yards and won the CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award. In his six years in the CFL, 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 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, led by Hugh Campbell, his head coach for his first five seasons in Edmonton.[1] Gifford Nielsen—the starting quarterback in 1983—retired after Moon joined the team, stating that Moon becoming the starter was inevitable.[13] Moon had a difficult adjustment period, but threw for a franchise-record 3,338 yards in his first season in 1984, but Campbell was just 8–22 (.267) at the helm and did not finish the 1985 season.[14] When new head coach Jerry Glanville found ways to best use Moon's strong arm in 1986, the team began having success. In the strike-marred 1987 season, the Oilers posted a 9–6 record, their first winning season since 1980. In his first postseason game in the NFL, Moon passed for 237 yards and a touchdown in the Oilers' 23–20 overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round of the playoffs.

Prior to the 1989 season, Moon signed a five-year, $10-million contract extension, which made him the highest-paid player in the NFL at that time.[15] 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.[16] 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 eleven 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. Two weeks later, the Oilers 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 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 stormed back 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 tie the game at 38 and force 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[17] 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 Oilers' best with Moon, but was his last with the team. Houston 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.

Moon set a franchise record with Houston 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.

Moon 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.[18] Moon then signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent, made the Pro Bowl, and was named Pro Bowl MVP. 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.[19] He played in only three games in two years with the Chiefs and announced his retirement at age 44 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 Football League statistics are discounted, Moon's NFL career numbers are still exceptional: 3,988 completions for 49,325 yards, 291 touchdown passes, 1,736 yards rushing, and 22 rushing touchdowns.[20] 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.[21] Moon was in the top five all-time when he retired for passing yards, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, and pass completions.[22]

Moon was named to 9 Pro Bowl games (1988–1995, 1997). He works as a broadcaster for the Seattle Seahawks on both TV and radio. On radio, he is a play-by-play announcer with former Seattle Seahawks receiver Steve Raible. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, becoming both the first Canadian Football Hall of Fame player, first undrafted quarterback, and first African-American quarterback honored; he was elected in his first year of eligibility. The Tennessee Titans retired his number at halftime on October 1, 2006 vs the Dallas Cowboys.[23] Moon won his first Super Bowl ring in 2014 as a broadcaster for the Seattle Seahawks.[24][25]

Moon has mentored Cam Newton, the first overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, alluding to their common experiences as prominent African-American quarterbacks.[26][27][28] He was suspended indefinitely from his sportscaster position after he was sued, in December 2017, for sexual harassment.[29]


CFL statistics[edit]

Year Team G Passing
Comp Att Pct Yards TD Int
1978 EDM 15 89 173 51.4 1,112 5 7
1979 EDM 16 149 274 54.4 2,382 20 12
1980 EDM 16 181 331 54.7 3,127 25 11
1981 EDM 15 237 378 62.7 3,959 27 12
1982 EDM 16 333 562 59.2 5,000 36 16
1983 EDM 16 380 664 57.2 5,648 31 19
CFL Career 94 1,369 2,382 57.5 21,228 144 77

NFL statistics[edit]

NFL Legend
Led the league
Bold Career high
Year Team Games Passing
G GS Comp Att Pct Yards TD Int Rate
1984 HOU 16 16 259 450 57.6 3,338 12 14 76.9
1985 HOU 14 14 200 377 53.1 2,709 15 19 68.5
1986 HOU 15 15 256 488 52.5 3,489 13 26 62.3
1987 HOU 12 12 184 368 50.0 2,806 21 18 74.2
1988 HOU 11 11 160 294 54.4 2,327 17 8 88.4
1989 HOU 16 16 280 464 60.3 3,631 23 14 88.9
1990 HOU 15 15 362 584 62.0 4,689 33 13 96.8
1991 HOU 16 16 404 655 61.7 4,690 23 21 81.7
1992 HOU 11 10 224 346 64.7 2,521 18 12 89.3
1993 HOU 15 14 303 520 58.3 3,485 21 21 75.2
1994 MIN 15 15 371 601 61.7 4,264 18 19 79.9
1995 MIN 16 16 377 606 62.2 4,228 33 14 91.5
1996 MIN 8 8 134 247 54.3 1,610 7 9 68.7
1997 SEA 15 14 313 528 59.3 3,678 25 16 83.7
1998 SEA 10 10 145 258 56.2 1,632 11 8 76.6
1999 KC 1 0 1 3 33.3 20 0 0 57.6
2000 KC 2 1 15 34 44.1 208 1 1 61.9
NFL Career 208 203 3,988 6,823 58.4 49,325 291 233 80.9

Franchise records[edit]

Warren Moon remains statistically one of the best players ever for the Oilers/Titans franchise. As of 2017's NFL off-season, Moon still held at least 37 Titans franchise records, including:

  • Most Completions (career): 2,632[30]
  • Most Completions (season): 404 (1991)
  • Most Completions (game): 41 (1991-11-10 DAL)
  • Most Completions (playoff career): 230
  • Most Completions (playoff game): 36 (1993-01-03 @BUF)
  • Most Completions (rookie season): 259 (1984) [31]
  • Most Pass Attempts (career): 4,546[30]
  • Most Pass Attempts (season): 655 (1991)
  • Most Pass Attempts (playoff career): 351
  • Most Pass Attempts (playoff game): 50 (1993-01-03 @BUF)
  • Most Pass Attempts (rookie season): 450 (1984)[31]
  • Most Passing Yards (career): 33,685[30]
  • Most Passing Yards (season): 4,690 (1991)
  • Most Passing Yards (game): 527 (1990-12-16 @KAN)
  • Most Passing Yards (playoff career): 2,578
  • Most Passing Yards (playoff game): 371 (1993-01-03 @BUF)
  • Most Passing Yards (rookie season): 3,338 (1984)[31]
  • Most Passing TDs (career): 196[30]
  • Most Passing TDs (playoff career): 15
  • Most Passing TDs (playoff season): 5 (1991)
  • Most Passing TDs (playoff game): 4 (1993-01-03 @BUF)
  • Most Intercepted (playoff career): 12
  • Most Sacked (career): 315[30]
  • Most Sacked (season): 47 (1984)
  • Most Sacked (game): 12 (1985-09-29 DAL)
  • Most Sacked (playoff career): 22
  • Most Sacked (playoff game): 9 (1994-01-16 KAN)
  • Most Sacked (rookie season): 47 (1984)[31]
  • Most Pass Yds/Game (career): 238.9[30]
  • Most Pass Yds/Game (season): 312.6 (1990)
  • Most Pass Yds/Game (playoff career): 286.4
  • Most Pass Yds/Game (playoff season): 371 (1992)
  • Most 300+ yard passing games (career): 42
  • Most 300+ yard passing games (season): 9 (1990)
  • Most 300+ yard passing games (playoffs): 4
  • Most 300+ yard passing games (rookie season): 4
  • Most 4000+ passing yard seasons: 2


Personal life[edit]

Moon at the Madden NFL 07 release party

Moon married Felicia Hendricks, whom he had known since they were 16 years old, in 1981. In 1994, a former Vikings cheerleader accused Moon of sexually harassing her and the case was settled out of court.[33] In 1995, Moon was arrested after an incident with his wife at their home.[34] Moon was acquitted after his wife testified that she initiated violence and that he was trying to restrain her.[35] They divorced in 2001.[36] They have four children together, including a daughter, Blair, who was a member of Tulane's women's volleyball team. Moon has been married to Mandy Ritter since 2005.

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

In 2007, Moon was arrested for suspicion of DUI in Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle. The charges were reduced to first-degree negligent driving after Moon registered breath-alcohol levels below 0.07 at the police station. Moon pleaded guilty to the negligent driving charge, and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Moon and Oilers agree to terms". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). February 5, 1984. p. D4.
  2. ^ a b "Warren Moon". Contemporary Black Biography. The Gale Group, Inc. 2006. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  3. ^ Plaschke, Bill (2006-07-30). "Moon Made His Position Clear From Start". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  4. ^ Bishop, Greg (2006-07-30). "The man that is Moon". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  5. ^ George, Thomas (1990-10-21). "Moon: He Wears No. 1, And He's Playing Like It". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  6. ^ a b "Warren Moon Biography". sports.jrank.org. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  7. ^ "Warren Moon's enshrinement speech transcript". Pro Football Hall of Fame. 2006-08-05. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  8. ^ "How Warren Moon Improved His Athleticism In High School". Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  9. ^ Missildine, Harry (January 3, 1978). "Jackson rescues Washington". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 19.
  10. ^ "Huskies go from rags to roses". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 3, 1978. p. 1C.
  11. ^ Dodds, Tracy (January 3, 1978). "Bo's rare gamble backfires in Rose Bowl". Milwaukee Journal. p. 8, part 2.
  12. ^ "CFL Legends >> Warren Moon". Retrieved 2007-01-22.
  13. ^ Blackburn, Jess (1984-05-15). "Quarterback Gifford Nielsen, a six-year veteran with the Houston..." UPI. UPI. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  14. ^ "Oilers fire Campbell as". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. December 9, 1985. p. C1.
  15. ^ "Moon Says New Pact Is Richest in N.F.L." New York Times. 1989-04-08. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  16. ^ "Individual Records: Passing". NFL Records. Archived from the original on 2008-05-13.
  17. ^ "Bills and Eagles Turn Mountains Into Molehill; Buffalo Erases 32-Point Deficit". New York Times. January 4, 1993. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  18. ^ "Vikings Release Moon". The New York Times. 1997-02-22. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  19. ^ "Moon Joins Chiefs". The New York Times. 1999-04-27. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  20. ^ "Passing Leaders".
  21. ^ "History". Nfl.com. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  22. ^ "Football records and Leaderboards".
  23. ^ "Retired Jersey Numbers". Tennessee Titans Official Website. Archived from the original on 8 July 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  24. ^ https://www.facebook.com/HWarrenMoon1/photos/pb.130853760294587.-2207520000.1415605023./764730766906880/?type=3&theater
  25. ^ "Warren Moon on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  26. ^ https://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2012/10/24/cam-newton-warren-moon-race-black-quarterback-carolina-panthers/1655143/
  27. ^ http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/14559236/carolina-panthers-quarterback-cam-newton-unlike-qb-nfl
  28. ^ http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/cam-newton-race-carolina-panthers-quarterback-super-bowl-50-020116
  29. ^ "Seahawks broadcaster and former Husky star Warren Moon sued for alleged sexual harassment". Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  30. ^ a b c d e f "Titans Career Passing Leaders". pro-football-reference.com.
  31. ^ a b c d "Oilers/Titans Rookie Passing Records". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  32. ^ "Husky Legends Come Alive in New Stadium". University of Washington. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  33. ^ http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20101266,00.html
  34. ^ "PRO FOOTBALL; Records Contradict Moons' Statements". The New York Times. 1996-02-16.
  35. ^ Murphy, Kate (1996-02-23). "PRO FOOTBALL;Jury Rapidly Acquits Moon of Spousal Abuse Charges". The New York Times.
  36. ^ http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Moons-file-for-divorce-2003582.php
  37. ^ "Hall of Famer Moon pleads guilty to negligent driving". Retrieved 2008-01-29.[dead link]

External links[edit]