When the Houston Oilers were 0-5 and slip-sliding to nowhere, quarterback Warren Moon, who had played six seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL, leading them to the Grey Cup championship five times, wasn't sure that he'd done the right thing when he signed a $6 million contract with the Oilers last February. "I was beaten up—physically and mentally," says Moon. "I didn't tell anybody except my wife. People would ask, 'Don't you wish you were playing for the Seahawks?' If I'd admitted how tough it was, they'd have asked me that question even more."
Moon was a strong-armed sprint-out quarterback at the University of Washington and at Edmonton, but what he found in Houston was an ultraconservative game plan. So, he perfected his hand-off technique. "I thought it was my fault we weren't winning," Moon says. "I'd come back to the huddle and say, 'My mistake.' The linemen kept complaining that I wouldn't yell at anybody but myself."
Now Moon is a. candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year: He has completed a rookie-record 240 of 419 passes for 3,032 yards and 12 touchdowns, with only 14 interceptions. Best of all, he has taken charge: He calls audibles about half of the time. Moon's still learning to throw out of the shotgun, but he can read defenses well, and the Oilers have won three of their last five games.