When Warren Moon was in his 20s, playing quarterback in the National Football League was a controversy in and of itself. Fast-forward 30 years and you’ve got a biracial NFL quarterback refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem.
The times, without question, have changed.
While Moon admires Colin Kaepernick’s cause, however, he doesn’t believe the 28-year-old is bringing attention to it the right way.
“I was a little shocked (when I heard about it), first of all, and then a little bit disappointed,” the Hall of Fame quarterback said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I thought what he was standing for, I really feel strongly about it as far as his feelings toward the oppression of people of color. I admire his compassion and his concern for that. But I think as a starting quarterback or a quarterback in the National Football League, you have a tremendous platform to be able to do and say pretty much whatever you’d like to say. I think if Colin just would have called a press conference, he would have gotten just as much attention and he could have said all the things that he said at his locker about what his concerns were without showing the disrespect for the flag or for the national anthem. Now people aren’t even listening to what his concerns are. They’re more concerned with the way he went about doing it. They’re not even concerned about what it is he’s protesting.
“There’s been a lot of oppression in this country for many, many decades against African-Americans, against people of color,” Moon continued. “We’ve seen that through the Civil Rights Movement. We’ve seen it all the way back (to slavery). This isn’t something that’s new to this country but we’ve still been singing the national anthem, and we’ve been respecting our flag for all these many decades and hundreds of years since we’ve been here. All of a sudden to do this now, I’m really not sure why he did it in this particular fashion. Yeah, you want to bring more attention to it, (but) you bring more attention to it just by talking about it and then doing something about it. That’s the thing I’m concerned about now.”
Moon would like to see Kaepernick speak more, act more and sit less.
“You brought this subject to the forefront. Everybody knows what’s on your mind now. Now what are you going to do about it going forward?” Moon wondered. “The only way this is going to change is through legislation, it’s going to change through voting, it’s going to change through programs put in place – and that’s going to be done by people. You’re going have to get to the right people to get these things done. The flag isn’t going to do it. The national anthem isn’t going to do it. It’s going to be people that are going to make these changes happen, and if he’s really willing to put his boots to the ground as he talks about, then he’s going to have to get out there and roll back his sleeves and really start getting his work done and talking to the right people to try to get change to happen.”
Although society has a ways to go in its treatment of minorities, Moon appreciates that the NFL finally came around to accepting African-Americans as quarterbacks.
“I think the league pretty much is colorblind now when it comes to African-Americans playing the position,” he said. “I think they’ve taken the idea that if you can play and help us win, we’re going to sign you or we’re going to make you part of our football team regardless of what color you are. I like that about the league. It’s definitely improved a ton.”
When he entered the league in 1984, Moon, believe it or not, was the only black starting quarterback in the NFL.
“Doug Williams had gone to the USFL,” Moon said. “All the other African-American quarterbacks weren’t even in the league at that time because of the USFL, so I was the only one at that time. It was a very lonely feeling out there, believe me.”