Back and Black

Tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Shrine of the Black Madonna (5309 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.) New York Times sports columnist William C. Rhoden will be signing Third and a Mile: The Trials and Triumph of the Black Quarterback. He'll be joined by former Oiler Warren Moon.

We don't have any excerpts from the book on hand, so we'll just defer to what Steven Devadanam wrote for HouStoned when Moon made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year.

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.

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.

-- Keith Plocek

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