Greatest Esk: Moon over everyone

Warren Moon was an exceptional quarterback in high school, but college programs wanted him to...

Warren Moon was an exceptional quarterback in high school, but college programs wanted him to switch positions. (QMI Agency file photo)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:55 AM ET

EDMONTON - Warren Moon never threw a football that wasn’t a perfect spiral.

If he did, few ever saw it.

That’s what first stood out watching the former Edmonton Eskimos quarterback play in the CFL from 1978 through to 1983.

Every pass Moon threw was a perfectly tight spiral that, more often then not, arrived at its intended target.

Even the best quarterbacks throw the odd wobbler or lame duck, but not Moon. It was a thing of beauty, watching him throw a football. He made it look so easy and so smooth that tickets could have been sold to watch him practice.

The fact he lead the team to five Grey Cup titles in his six years should qualify him as the best Edmonton Eskimo of all time.

There’s no arguing with success.

It’s how great players are measured and on that criteria alone, there hasn’t been anyone better to strap on an Eskimos helmet

If Moon had not taken his talents to the NFL following the 1983 season, there’s no telling how many more titles the Eskimos would have won.

By the same token, it could be argued the Eskimos would not have claimed those titles without Moon at the helm.

But it wasn’t all about talent for Moon, it was about personality and his determination to stand up for what he believed was right.

Shattered stereotypes

Moon was pioneer.

As a black quarterback, he shattered stereotypes, inspired countless players and opened the door for black athletes to follow in his footsteps.

An exceptional high school quarterback, the Los Angeles native was recruited by a number of U.S. colleges, but due to his race, was urged to switch positions.

At the time there was a stigma in the United States around black quarterbacks at the collegiate and professional level.

Many weren’t given a chance to excel at the position and had it not been for Moon’s resolve, his Hall of Fame career may never have materialize.

His determination to play quarterback eventually took him to the University of Washington, where he led the Huskies to an upset victory over the University of Michigan Wolverines in the 1978 Rose Bowl game.

Passed over

Despite his college success and his MVP performance in the Rose Bowl, Moon was passed over in the NFL draft.

The NFL’s ignorance was the Eskimos gain, as Moon came to Edmonton, teamed up with veteran Tom Wilkinson and helped the Eskimos dominate for half a decade.

Having finished his CFL career with 21, 228 yards passing, 144 touchdowns and five championship rings, Moon’s name should not just be in consideration as the best Eskimo of all time, he should be considered as the best CFL player of all time.

Unfortunately for the Eskimos and Canadian football fans, the NFL realized its mistake and began to covet the strong-armed quarterback.

Moon ended up with the Houston Oilers where he played for 10 seasons before being traded to the Minnesota Vikings.

Moon concluded his NFL career by playing for the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs.

He went on to play 16 years in the NFL after his stint with the Eskimos, was named to the Pro Bowl nine times and was a three-time All-pro.

Moon was elected into both the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming the first modern-day black quarterback to do so.

He also graces the Eskimos Wall of Honour.

It’s hard to believe anyone will ever be able to repeat Moon’s accomplishments during his time with the Eskimos.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

@SUNDvandiest


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