Watching Warren Moon's acceptance speech during Saturday's NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, I had a flashback. It was December 1990, and my friends and I were at 59 Diner getting food to go. The Houston Oilers were playing the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a blustery day, and one of Moon's deflected passes bobbled and fell to the turf, beyond WR Ernest Givens's hands.
A distinguished, grandfatherly gentleman sitting next to me at the counter heaved a deep, sorrowful sigh. He shook his head and said, "Well, that's what happens with a black quarterback."
It took me a minute to recover from the initial "WTF!!??" We ended up watching the rest of the game there at the restaurant. It just happened to be the game that Moon passed for 527 yards, the second most in the NFL after QB great Norm Van Brocklin. Moon and his receiving crew were spanking the KC defense, so it seemed a perfect time to pad the numbers and cruise into NFL statistical lore.
Thing is, it was the fourth quarter and the game was won. So Moon elected to stay on the bench, rather than toss a few and nab the title for most passing yards ever in a single game. Oh, and the Oilers won.
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I wanted to find the old guy, but he was long gone. I wanted to see what he thought of a "black quarterback" doing that. You can bet your ass Troy Aikman would've been on the field.
But that was Warren Moon, and that, unfortunately, was Houston. Any of us who cheered for him on Saturday as he joined the NFL Hall of Fame had to remember (if we were around) that the city turned on him and all but demanded he be cut loose. It was because he was too old, they said. He blew The Game for us. And maybe, though few admit it, it was because he was black.
What he was off the field sometimes left something to be desired. On the field, though, he was a class act. He threw the prettiest ball in NFL history, and he did it for Minnesota, Seattle and Kansas City after we let him go. You know, the old guy. The man we traded for a fourth-round draft pick is now in the Hall of Fame, lauded as the first great black QB of the modern era. And us? Once we ousted him, our team left.
Wow, we sure showed him, didn't we? -- Steven Devadanam