As a former Seattle Seahawk — and ardent seafood lover — Warren Moon is as excited to come to Juneau as the Rotary Club is to have him speak at their Pillars of America luncheon May 4 at Centennial Hall.
The NFL Hall of Famer has been to Alaska twice before: once for a fishing trip, and last year on Princess Cruises’ Seattle Seahawks Fan Cruise. Moon looks forward to the opportunity to impart a lasting message at his Pillars speech, but also expressed eagerness to see Southeast again.
“I was really impressed by the natural beauty of the place. I just didn’t realize how beautiful it was up there, and the people were so friendly, and great seafood, which I love. … There was no question I would come back,” Moon said.
Moon is one of only two players in NFL history to be inducted into both the NFL and Canadian Football League Halls of Fame. He passed for 49,325 yards and 291 touchdowns in his NFL career, making the Pro Bowl nine times in 17 seasons.
Selected in 2006, Moon became the first African-American quarterback inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Despite his ability under center, many four-year college programs overlooked Moon or asked him to switch positions, but he believed in his ability, and rose through the community college ranks to lead the University of Washington to the 1978 Rose Bowl.
Moon remembers doors being closed due to his race on his way to the pros.
“It wasn’t like I didn’t have the credentials. I was an All-City quarterback, I was an All-State quarterback in junior college, I was a player of the year in the Pac Eight conference in college,” Moon said. “I did all the things at all these different levels but all the doors were still being closed in my face. I knew it wasn’t all because of my ability. I just had to keep pushing forward and keep trying to prove that I was good enough.”
During his playing career the Hall of Famer started a philanthropic effort, the Crescent Moon Foundation, which he established when he was voted NFL Man of the Year in 1989. The foundation provides scholarships to underprivileged high school students to go to college and works with children’s hospitals around the country to raise money for childhood cancer.
“Education has always been very important to me. Not all kids can be athletes, they can’t all be entertainers,” Moon said. “But all kids can learn if they put their minds to it, and if you’re educated, you have a greater opportunity to be successful in life.”
Moon is currently a color commentator for Seahawks games on KIRO-TV in Seattle.
Tickets for all Pillars speeches are available at Hearthside Books.
Former Globetrotter Melvin Adams is short in stature, but big in personality. The 5’8” two-time NCAA III All-American and former Mr. Globetrotter joins the Pillars of America schedule this year for an April 20 speaking engagement.
Adams grew up with an abusive father and hard-working mother in Houston. He looked to basketball to earn the validation he didn’t get at home, running three miles everyday and shooting 3,000 jump shots from a young age.
“Me being 5’8”, I just thought, if I could score more points, make more money, my mom would love me,” Adams said. “Everything I ever did was just to get my mother to say ‘I’m proud of you, I love you.’ I would say ‘Hey I got All-American, I scored 28,’ ‘Well you should have scored 30,’ (she would say). It was never ending.”
Unlike many pro athletes who preach about dedication and hard work, Adams believes he missed out on too much in life for a dream that wasn’t ever going to fill the hole in his heart. Adams said he was so single-mindedly devoted to basketball that he didn’t develop a social life until his junior year in college.
Instead of “workahaulism,” as he puts it, Adams preaches playing the game of life with balance.
“I looked in the mirror and said, ‘What is this all for? I am just killing myself.’ You buy this house, they say it’s too little. We become these workaholics, and we’re hurting. … We’re all either workaholics, or we don’t work at all. What we need is balance,” he said.
Speaking April 27 at Centennial Hall, Tiana Tozer has the most varied resume of this year’s Pillars speakers: Tozer is a two-time Paralympic medalist with the USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team, a humanitarian aid worker, consultant and author.
Tozer was tragically injured by a drunk driver when she was only 20 years old; her legs were irrevocably damaged when the driver ran a stop sign. Tozer wouldn’t learn to walk again for a long time, and deals with her injuries to this day.
She has volunteered for Mothers Against Drunk Driving for 10 years, advocating for .08 laws in Idaho, Nevada and Illinois, and lobbied for the Americans with Disabilities Act. Tozer’s work has been featured on “NBC Nightly News”, in the American Journal of Nursing and even on Starbucks’ coffee cups.
As a speaker, Tozer seeks to inspire through sharing her story of exceeding limitations as a disabled person, and to help young people make responsible decisions.
After playing six years for the USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team, Tozer became a humanitarian aid worker in Iraq, where she ran a program which helped teach 10,000 women to read and write; she also ran a program which helped people with disabilities advocate for themselves.
• Contact Sports Editor Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 or email@example.com.
KNOW & GO
What: Pillars of America speaker series
Where: Centennial Hall
Date: April 20, Melvin Adams; April 27, Tiana Tozer; May 4, Warren Moon
When: Doors open 11:15 a.m., lunch at 11:30