Moon shaking hands with former Pittsburgh Steeler Jack Butler, - Ezra Shaw
I was lucky enough to get a few minutes with Warren to talk about the event, put on by Allstate and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There was even some time to talk about his career, and the Seahawks as well!
Friday morning I was checking my email, in a completely normal fashion, assuming there was no way I'd be offered an interview with a Hall of Fame quarterback.
BOY WAS I WRONG!
A nice woman going by the name "Samantha" said that Warren was taking part in a program called Hometown Hall of Famer down at his old stomping grounds in Los Angeles. The deal was that I'd get to ask him some questions about whatever I wanted as long as I made sure to ask him about the program. My first thought...
"Wait, I get to ask Warren Moon questions... And all I have to do is plug this super awesome thing you guys are doing for kids in his home town?!?" SWEET DEAL MAN!
Basically, what Allstate is doing, alongside the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is sending pro players back to their home towns to speak to the youth currently working their way through young adulthood. They're trying to show them that if you persevere and work your tail off you can do pretty much anything. Warren is probably the best example of that fact; he overcame stereotypes at pretty much every level and became one of the best quarterbacks in the history of pro football.
At the high school level, coming out to find a college to play for, he had trouble finding any good offers; everyone wanted him to swap around to different positions. He ended up at West Los Angeles, which turned out to be just the right choice, as it ended up leading him to a major college program in an interesting way.
Moon spoke to me about ending up at the University of Washington. "My high school coach happened to be going over to West LA," he said, "so I followed him there, and had a lot of success there in that one year. A wide receiver I had on my team at West LA was gonna go to the University of Washington. He had been recruited by several teams around the country because he had an outstanding season. That's where I first got noticed; they were watching him on film, so of course they were watching at the same time because I was the one throwing him the football, so (that) created an interest in me."
He wasn't sure whether or not he'd be able to leave junior college after only one season, but he wanted to badly, as he was only there as a means to find a home as quarterback of a larger more prominent school. He ended up staying for a second succesful season, at which point Don James, the Dawgfather, came knocking.
"The University of Washington was giving me an opportunity to compete for the starting job right away," Moon recollected, "and I kind of wanted to go away from home anyway, just to go somewhere else and be outside of Los Angeles, but still stay on the West Coast where my family could still see me play and be close to home. Don James presented that opportunity to me and I went ahead and signed at the University of Washington."
Much like the college programs before them, NFL scouts and general managers took one quick look at Moon and told him to pack it in; he traveled north of the border, shattering all that was holy while leading the Edmonton Eskimos to five consecutive championships, and in the process forcing everyone in the NFL to take notice.
He ended up in a bidding war between a dozen teams in all three major North American football leagues, and ultimately signed with the Houston Oilers; it was the largest contract in the history of the league. Moon thought that was ironic, "it was just six years earlier that people thought I couldn't play the position, and now all of a sudden I'm the highest paid player in the league."
I suppose that's the message he's looking to send to the kids today at his hometown high school, "It just goes to show that if you stick to your guns, if you have confidence in your ability and you continue to work hard good things will happen for you... there's gonna be adversity in your life all along the way, and it's how you handle that adversity. I'm a perfect example of a guy that didn't give up, didn't let people tell me that I couldn't achieve what I wanted to achieve."
That you are Warren, that you are.
I was able to get in a couple Seahawks questions as well, and I'll simply transcribe to the best of my abilities the answers for you. Warren's been around the block a time or two so it's always cool to get some insight when you can.
LW: Russell Wilson has been so great, better than even his supporters likely imagined he would be. Is a sophomore slump likely, or will he keep on growing and keep on showing?
Moon: "I think he's only gonna grow and get better, just because he'll be more familiar with what their offense is. I think their offensive coordinator will be more familiar with what Wilson does, as opposed to trying to find their way through the first six or seven games to really figure out what he does best and what the offense does best.
I think they're going to get probably one more playmaker too... maybe another wide receiver that's big and real fast that gives him one more weapon over there. So you add a couple of weapons to go along with his experience from this year, to go along with the fact that his offensive coordinator will know what he does best next year, I think they're only going to grow. This is a very young football team; all those guys on that offensive side of the ball, I think they have the second youngest offensive line in the league. They're all just going to grow together and get better."
This front office has come out of the last couple drafts under a lot of scrutiny, but rookies continue to perform well right away. What are Schneider and Carroll on to that other draftniks just don't get yet?
"There's a 'draft system' where you're rated by whatever the draft experts say you are. All of that is based on measurables; the Seahawks try to find guys who fit their system. They don't care about a guy who might be more highly rated, who doesn't fit what they do, which is a mistake a lot of people make. Just because he had a great college career, or maybe he has all these great measurables, but he doesn't fit the system or the scheme he's going to, and a lot of people draft that way. Well, the Seahawks don't draft that way. They draft guys that fit their system of what they want to do defensively and what they want to do offensively."
"Sometimes that goes off the norm, it (strays from) what a guy might be rated at the time they're drafting, but they don't care about that... That's why they take a Bruce Irvin, who's probably a second or third round pick in most people's eyes but he fits perfectly (with) what they're doing and here he is with 7 sacks at the halfway point of the season."
"Russell WIlson being the same thing, a third rounder; All he had going against him was his height, but here he is a starting quarterback in the National Football League... They thought everything else he could do and could bring to the table fit their system... That's kind of their philosiphy, they're going to go after guys who fit what they do best, they don't really care where everybody else has them rated."
How did you get into broadcasting Seahawks games?
"Broadcasting was something I wanted to do when I retired just to stay around the game, and it was something I majored in at college, so it was very natural for me. I went to the Seahawks mainly because Dave Pearson, their VP of communications, was my PR guy with I was with the Houston Oilers, years ago. He offered me the opportunity to come and be the color analyst there... I like Seattle a lot as a city, and I had lived there a lot of the time when I was (playing) in Canada, I also played there a couple of years so I had a lot of relationships there."
"It was a place where I could, be in a place I was familiar... It was just a good situation, a good time for me to go there, and I've enjoyed my time up there for the last 8 years."
I'm Luke, I'm on twitter @MyHawkSoFly
Quick note: I REALLY wanted to throw in some rapid fire random questions at the end but ran out of time. If I ever get to interview the man again I'll be sure to throw some quick ones at him.
Another quick note: If you listen to the interview you'll hear me try to squeeze three questions into one for my last question, it didn't work... but I'd like credit for trying.
For anyone interested in checking out the entire interview, the audio file is right here:
Warren Moon "Hometown Hall of Famer" Interview