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Talk of Fame Network
The Talk of Fame Network kicks off its eight-week draft series this weekend, and we start at the bottom — the undrafted players.
So we invited one of the greatest quarterbacks in pro football history to be our first guest – Warren Moon, who went undrafted in 1978 out of the University of Washington and wound up spending his first six professional seasons in Canada playing for the Edmonton Eskimos.
Moon was an African-American quarterback when black quarterbacks weren’t on the shopping list of any NFL teams. The NFL teams that did have an interest wanted him to switch positions, moving from quarterback to either defensive back or wide receiver. So Moon didn’t wait on the NFL to spurn him — he spurned the NFL, signing with the Eskimos a month before the NFL draft. He wanted to play quarterback and would go where someone would allow him to do just that – Canada.
“I probably would have been drafted if I would have decided to change positions,” Moon said. “But I told everybody I was not going to change positions, and that scared a lot of people away. I just didn’t feel I was a good enough athlete to be a wide receiver or a defensive back. Those are the two more skilled positions on the field. I felt I was a good athlete, especially for the quarterback position, but I didn’t feel I was a great enough athlete to make that transition.”
Moon won five consecutive Grey Cups and an MVP award in Canada before he returned stateside in 1984 to play with the Houston Oilers, who made him the NFL’s highest-paid player at the time. And it was Moon, Doug Williams and Randall Cunningham who changed the NFL’s perception of African-American quarterbacks. Moon is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and ranks seventh all-time in the NFL in passing.
“When Doug won the Super Bowl (1987), when Randall won the MVP award (1990), with the consistency of my career and all of us playing at a very high level during the middle to late 1980s,” Moon said, “that changed a lot of the minds of people around football that, `These guys can play the position, they can play at a high level and it doesn’t matter what color they are. That’s the way we should start looking at all quarterbacks now. If they can play the position, it shouldn’t matter what color they are. You should give them the opportunity.’
“So I think you started to see more guys get more opportunities. All of a sudden Donovan McNabb is the second player picked in a draft, Daunte Culpepper and so on and so on. A lot of guys started to get that first-round opportunity to play the position where we never did before. The way the three of us played the game changed the perception of what people in football thought about African-American quarterbacks.”
In addition, hosts Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge conduct a draft of all undrafted players in NFL history. After Judge selected Kurt Warner and Gosselin took Moon, Borges made a surprising selection at quarterback. Gosselin also states the Hall of Fame case of former Minnesota Vikings running back Chuck Foreman and discusses the disparity of talent between wide receiver and cornerback in the 2015 NFL draft in this week’s Dr. Data segment. Borges vents on the possibility of the NFL changing the pass interference penalty from a spot foul to 15 yards in his Borges or Bogus segment, then we invite former NFL supervisor of officials Mike Pereira to weigh in on the same topic. And each hour concludes, as always, with the entertaining two-minute drill.
The draft series will continue next week when we focus on the seventh round, followed in successive weeks by the sixth, fifth, fourth, third, second and, in the week of the draft, the first round. You won’t want to miss our guest list. The Talk of Fame Network can also be heard on iTunes now.