Over the Moon!

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Warren Moon hasn't forgotten his roots.

Several past and present members of the Edmonton Eskimo organization - including Tom Wilkinson, Hugh Campbell and Dan Kepley - were invited by Moon to his induction ceremony to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, this afternoon.

"That's Warren Moon - the man is the epitome of class and professionalism," said Kepley, the current linebacker coach with the Eskimos, who played with Moon during his six years in Edmonton.

"I was thrilled (for the invitation).

"And when I thanked Warren for it (earlier this summer), he said: 'You helped me get here.' "

CAMPBELL WILL BE THERE

Eskimo CEO Hugh Campbell will be at today's ceremony and Kepley might be with him in Canton.

At last word, Kepley was actually thinking of trying to make the long journey from Vancouver where the Esks played last night, even though he would have to travel across the country and would likely face some tricky airline connections.

"It's never over until it's over," quipped Kepley.

"As long as we have got options, it is not a dead issue."

Eskimo equipment manager Dwayne Mandrusiak also received an invite to the prestigious gathering, but decided not to risk the possibility of missing tight overnight flight connections from Vancouver.

"I could get a red-eye to Toronto, but they couldn't guarantee customs," he explained, referring to the possibility his connecting flight to the U.S. would leave while he was trying to clear the border crossing.

Regardless, he was floored to receive the invite from Moon.

"It blows me away," said Mandrusiak.

"I'll keep (that invitation) forever.

"I'll never get invited again."

Wilkinson can't make the trip either, due to prior commitments.

"But it's more nice to have played with someone who is getting such an honour and in a position (quarterback) that coming out of college he was told he couldn't play," he said.

"That's tremendous."

Although he was the MVP of the 1978 Rose Bowl, Moon was not among nearly 340 players selected that year in the NFL draft because he was black.

FIVE GREY CUPS IN SIX YEARS

That snub led Moon to come north to Edmonton to join the Eskimos - a team that won five Grey Cups during his six years in Canada.

Of course, he then left for the NFL, spending 16 years in that league and becoming the fourth-leading pivot in passing yards on that circuit.

But most importantly, Moon helped break down the colour barrier at the quarterback position in the NFL and became a role model for youngsters across America.

Today, he will become the first black quarterback inducted into the Hall of Fame.


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