When the '83 CFL season ended in November, Moon and Steinberg made a list of eight NFL teams they believed could best use his skills. They put down the advantages of each team: Seattle (site of his off-season home, proximity to his closest friends, indoor stadium perfect for a passer); Houston (indoor stadium, needed a quarterback); New Orleans (coach Bum Phillips); Los Angeles Raiders (owner Al Davis); Tampa Bay (city accustomed to a black quarterback); New York Giants (best business opportunities); Philadelphia (fervent fans); and Baltimore (an up-and-comer).
And then the cons: Seattle (Moon's wife, Felicia, feared the city would turn on him as it had when he was unsuccessful in his early years at Washington); Houston (losing team); New Orleans (he worried about moving to the Deep South); Raiders (he'd not be likely to start); Tampa Bay (losing team); Giants (overly critical press, overly demanding fans); Philadelphia and Baltimore (too far from family and friends).
And then the odyssey really began. Dec. 19-20, Houston: Moon and Steinberg are met at the airport by throngs of reporters. They get into a limo sent by the Oilers and flick on its TV. The first thing they get is the news that coach Chuck Studley has resigned. "The reporter then said that [general manager] Ladd Herzeg would be the next to go if he didn't turn things around," Steinberg recalls. "I said to Warren, They're probably very sorry they gave us a TV in this limo.' He was disappointed. 'I came all this way to talk to a coach,' he said. 'Now, there isn't one.' "
Moon's spirits revive during a visit to the office of owner Bud Adams, whose walls are covered with huge autographed pictures of astronauts from most of America's flights.
Dec. 21-22, New Orleans: The Moons check out Bourbon Street. "Very bizarre," Warren says. "Strippers, naked ladies." Felicia is particulary fond of a woman who mooned Warren. "She was wiggling, shaking," Felicia says. "You should've seen his face."
They have breakfast with Bum Phillips. "He was very casual," Moon says, "but very straightforward." Moon would start; Kenny Stabler would relieve. Some Saints players tell Moon he'd love New Orleans, that owner John Mecom has thrown parties for players on his 103-foot yacht, that they drink together. Moon, who's a near-teetotaler, isn't impressed.
Dec. 28-29, New York: Giants general manager George Young is mired in the Lawrence Taylor- USFL contract fiasco. With the team's permission, Moon and Steinberg commandeer the Giants' limo and call on Donald Trump to talk about USFL opportunities. Later they go to Studio 54.
Jan. 10-11, Tampa: Moon talks with owner Hugh Culverhouse. "I was totally overwhelmed," Moon says. "I'd never met that kind of guy—somebody worth 300 or 400 million dollars—and had him explain how he made his money. I'm just a little guy from a lower middle-class background." Culverhouse tells Moon how hurt he was when the city's black community labeled him a racist after the Bucs lost quarterback Doug Williams to the USFL. "I started to wonder if that was part of the reason he had me in town," Moon says.
Jan. 24-25, Houston: The Oilers have now made an offer and have a new coach, Hugh Campbell, who was the Edmonton coach when Moon and the Eskimos won their five Grey Cups. Moon pays him a visit. An acquaintance of Bud Adams' says he'll give Moon "one of my oil wells" if he turns the Oilers into winners. Moon goes out on the town with Ralph Sampson. Sampson is late for practice the next morning and is fined.
Jan. 26-31, Honolulu: Moon and Steinberg are in town for the Jan. 29 Pro Bowl. On the beach at Waikiki they meet with general manager Mike McCormack and coach Chuck Knox. Knox indicates that Jim Zorn will be traded and Dave Krieg will have to battle for his starting job. McCormack tells Steinberg that Seattle's offer is $5.5 million for five years. Later, Moon bumps into Oiler running back Earl Campbell at the Hau Tree Bar. Campbell has asked to be traded. "Talk about a bitter guy," Moon says. "He doesn't think they approach things with class." Moon cools on Houston.