Eskimos great Warren Moon remembers team like family

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:35 AM ET

EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos annual fundraising dinner included just about everything under the Sun and Moon.

The Edmonton Sun presented the Wes Montgomery Memorial award, which goes to the top local junior football player in both athletics and academics, to Edmonton Huskies defensive back and Bev Facey product Reid Knox.

"Wes was a great Edmontonian, a radio personality for 40 years, he hosted this event for 40 years," Sun publisher John Caputo said of Montgomery, a former play-by-play announcer for the Eskimos. "Wes was also a columnist at the Edmonton Sun, where he kept tabs on junior football in Edmonton.

"Wes sure enjoyed himself, and I'm sure looking down upon us tonight, he would want us to do the same."

But the biggest draw of the evening was when double Hall of Famer Warren Moon took to the stage for a round-table discussion involving former Eskimos Bill Smith, Huskies coach Shannon Garrett, Ed Hervey, Sean Fleming, Henry ‘Gizmo' Williams and Damon Allen.

"This has always been a special place for me," said Moon, acknowledging a handful of Eskimos teammates who were with him during the five-in-a-row Grey Cup championship era from 1978-82. "This is the place that gave me my first start to play professional football and gave me a chance to play the quarterback position that a lot of people didn't think I could play.

"This city welcomed me, they welcomed my family. I had some of the most exciting years of my life here, playing with those guys back at that table back there."

Currently living in Seattle, where he broadcasts Seahawks games on television and radio, Moon said he will always think of Edmonton as home.

"When I come back and be around these guys, it was like we were never apart," he said. "We can still pick up on the same conversations that we left the last time I was here. That's one of the reasons why that team, I think, was so good.

"We were so close both on and off the field, our families spent a lot of time together. Because of that closeness, whenever we had to step it up a notch and take our game to another level to win a football game, we just had that look amongst one another and it just happened."

Over and over, and over and over again after that. All in a row, which is something Moon said won't ever happen again.

"I don't think so, I don't think in any professional sport it will ever happen," he said. "Just because you have free agency now, you have guys moving around from place to place. I don't think you will ever have that same core group of guys stay together that long to have that type of consistency.

"I think when we were going through it, we didn't see how special it was at that time, because we were in it. But now that we've stepped away from the game, we understand how special it was, that time. And also the fact that it's never been done again, that makes it even more special."

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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