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The following will be a potentially controversial article about blacks in sports in the US, and some of the great moments involving that. If you are sensitive to this topic, do not continue reading. This is a very serious subject matter to me If you edit this article and put anything stupid in there, I will report to the admins.
Now, this is a three part article, the final part will come next week. I will look at two major moments in sports involving race every article, and tell you some facts you may not remember.
Today, I'm just focusing on the players and what they had to go through, no ranting from me until the last part.
Blacks in Sports: Warren Moon
You can make jokes about Warren Moon's drinking problems, but he was a heckuva football player. He is quite possibly one of the greatest QB's in the history of the University of Washington, and for the CFL.
Moon won the 1978 Rose Bowl MVP as QB of the Huskies. But scouts in the NFL wanted him to move to tight end. It's pretty obvious that they did not want a black QB in the supposed "glamor position of football". After all, only Marlin Briscoe made a big splash at the time as a black QB. Every other black QB was forced to either play another position, or don't get in the NFL at all.
Warren Moon wasn't even drafted, at a time when drafts had like 1500 rounds. So Moon hopped over to the CFL to play for the Edmonton Eskimos. He got to play QB there as he shared duties with Tom Wilkinson.
Moon didn't do much outside of 5 consecutive Grey Cup titles, 2 Grey Cup MVP awards, and CFL MVP for 1983. He still holds the record for passing yards in North American Football with 5648 yards. He finished his career 9-1 in postseason games, and 144 touchdown passes. TSN listed him as the 5th greatest CFL player out of 100 of all time.
He could've taken the road of playing a position that he doesn't play naturally. He could've left the game. But little Canada provided him a pathway to an NFL career after all.
From 1983-1992, Moon was starting QB for the Houston Oilers. Sadly, he was not put on a strong team, and he threw more INT's then TD's in his first 4 years in the NFL. But in 1987-88 season, he turned the team around, threw more TD's then INT's for the first time in this NFL career, and led the Oilers to a surprising run to the AFC Divisional Round, where they fell to the Broncos.
His career sprung dramatically after that. The Oilers made the playoffs every season for as long as Moon was QB afterwards. Sadly, Moon and the Oilers never got over the hump, failing to reach the AFC Championship Game time and time again, including the infamous Oilers meltdown against the Buffalo Bills in 1993.
Moon is the only player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. When inducted in 2006, Moon became the first black QB to be inducted into the HOF, as well as the first undrafted QB to reach the HOF.
Look at his career, and Moon was a warrior on the gridiron. Imagine what would've happened if Canada never had a football league. We would've been looking at talent wasted all because of color.
Blacks in Sports: Hank Aaron
You know the story. The REAL all time HR leader to most of you, he didn't need steroids. Hank Aaron finished his career with 755 home runs, a record that stood until Barry Bonds broke it in 2007. But Bonds took steroids, Aaron did not. There is a backdrop to this story, and it happened when he had 714 home runs, tying Babe Ruth's all time home run mark.
Aaron, a black baseball player, knew that he was about to break a prestigious home run record held by a white baseball player. Hank also played for the Atlanta Braves, right in the heart of the deep south, a place where racial tension occurred the most. After he broke the record in 1973, Aaron ended up fearing for his life.
Death threats, hate mail, all from white people, as if to say "Hey nigger, we don't want you breaking a record that a white man held." And he certainly had it before he broke the record, he had it even worse afterwards. The editor for the Atlanta Journal at the time, Lewis Grizzard (who wrote a book about this journey), apparently had numerous calls coming in calling the paper "nigger lovers" because of the positive press they gave Aaron's home run mark. He even wrote an obituary just in case Aaron would be killed.
He could've just stopped at 713 to keep his life intact. He could've stopped at 715 and move somewhere else. Instead, he played two more seasons in the league and hit 40 more home runs to finish off an illustrious career.
Hank Aaron not only provided history, he too helped make a pathway for more black baseball players.
This has been Part II of a III part series on Blacks in Sports. As mentioned earlier, part III will come March 7th. It will include Muhammad Ali and another player TBD. Also, the closing statement will be called "What if we lived in a world without race?"