Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon has been named for induction into the Houston Sports Hall of Fame. He will join former Houston Comets star Cynthia Cooper and Houston Astros legend Lance Berkman in the 2024 Hall at the Houston Sports Awards in January.
The legendary quarterback praised other star athletes who come from the city. “The caliber of athletes that have come out of this city…I don’t think there are too many cities that can compare,” Moon said in a press release. He called the induction “an outstanding honor” — fitting for a truly outstanding career.
While he’s a Houston sports icon, Moon’s career actually began in Canada. He launched his career in the Canadian Football League, playing quarterback for the Edmonton Eskimos. He led the team to five consecutive Grey Cup championships between 1978 and 1982. Moon then left the CFL for the NFL, joining the Houston Oilers in 1984. (Then-quarterback Gifford Nielsen quit football entirely, taking a job as sports director for KHOU.) The team had losing records for Moon’s first three seasons. But after coach Hugh Campbell was replaced with Jerry Glanville, Moon flourished. With him as quarterback and Campbell as coach, the Oilers advanced to the playoffs every year from 1987-1993.
In the strike-shortened 1987 season, the Oilers went 9-6, making the playoffs for the first time since 1980. They beat the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round of the playoffs but lost to Denver in the divisional round. Houston went 10-6 in 1988, again making the postseason. They beat the Cleveland Browns 24-23 in the first round.
Prior to the 1989 season, Moon signed a five-year, $10 million deal that made him the highest-paid player in the NFL. (The deal, unprecedented at the time, included a $1 million signing bonus, according to the New York Times.) The Oilers finished the season 9-7, earning a wild-card playoff spot before losing to Pittsburgh.
In 1990, Moon shined, leading the league in passing yards (4,689) and 33 touchdowns. That season featured one of his finest performances: in a December 1990 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, he threw for 527 yards — the second-most ever in a single game. He again led the league in passing yards the following year (with 4,690) and also set an NFL record with 404 completed passes. The Houston Oilers beat the New York Jets 17-10 in the Wild Card game. It would be their last playoff win.
In 1992, Moon was limited to 11 games due to injury, but the Oilers still finished 10-6 and advanced to the postseason. They wouldn’t make it past the first round. After leading the Buffalo Bills 28-3 at halftime at 35-3 in the third quarter, the Oilers collapsed in the second half as the Bills came roaring back to score 38 unanswered points (!). They took a 38-35 lead late in the fourth quarter and went on to win in overtime, 41-38. It was the largest comeback in NFL history — and Houston was on the losing end.
Things were never the same after that. Even though Houston went 12-4 and won its division in 1993, the team was starting to unravel. Owner Bud Adams threatened to move the team from Houston unless the Oilers made it to the Super Bowl. Internal conflicts grew within staff. And though they won 11 straight games to end the season, the Houston Oilers blew another big lead in the playoffs, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Warren Moon was traded the next season. He went on to have brief stints with the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, and Kansas City Chiefs before retiring. But he’s most remembered for his career in Houston (where he lived for 16 years) and as a game-changer who helped open doors for other Black quarterbacks. In 2006, Warren Moon became the first Black quarterback to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s also the only player who’s in both the NFL and CFL Hall of Fame. This latest honor only cements his legacy as a Houston sports legend.