‘I love it’: Hall of Famer Warren Moon a fan of B.C.’s all-Canadian QB duo

Photo courtesy: Richard Lam / UBC Thunderbirds

The B.C. Lions are making a bold move by rolling with two inexperienced Canadians, Nathan Rourke and Michael O’Connor, under centre next season, but they’ve earned a stamp of approval from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time: Warren Moon.

The only player to be inducted into both the Canadian and Pro Football Hall of Fame sat down with Lions’ play-by-play man Bob ‘The Moj’ Marjanovich on Super Bowl radio row and expressed his approval for the move during an episode of Moj on Sports.

“I love it. When you can put quarterbacks of that quality that are Canadians at the quarterback position that just frees up two Americans at some other positions that you probably thought you weren’t gonna use Americans on,” Moon said. “I think if it works out well for them, that just strengthens the rest of their football team by using those Americans somewhere else.”

For the purposes of the overall roster, neither Rourke or O’Connor count as a National. However, they will count as one of seven required National starters, allowing the Lions to play three Americans along the offensive line.

Some have questioned whether the third-year O’Connor is the best choice to back up Rourke in his first season as starter, but Moon has no such concerns. The two have a prior relationship, as Moon was introduced to the young Canadian QB by former UBC football financial backer David Sidoo as he attempted to lure the Penn State transfer away from the NCAA.

The ploy worked and Moon made a trip to Vancouver to mentor O’Connor during his first training camp as a member of the Thunderbirds. The heavily coveted recruit would lead his team to a shocking Vanier Cup victory that same year, spurred on by texts from Moon before and after every game.

“Michael’s a really good player and I think his best years are ahead of him,” Moon said. “He’s back in his old stomping grounds again in Vancouver and I think he’s gonna do a good job there.”

Far removed from his days of winning five straight Grey Cups, Moon says he still “keeps tabs from afar” on the CFL. While he has opinions on the Lions’ quarterbacks, his greater focus has always been his former organization, the Edmonton Elks. He’s had a close eye on their recent turmoil.

“I know they have a new coaching change. I know they have a new general manager. I know they have a new president, so they’ve kind of really cleaned house there and are starting all over from scratch,” Moon said. “I hope they get back to their prominence because there are a very proud organization that has had a lot of success and hopefully this new leadership will get them to that stage.”

The legendary quarterback reserves a special place in his heart for Canada and has a clear preference for the three-down game. While the NFL has long stolen concepts and ideas from the CFL, Moon believes they could stand to adopt even more.

“I’ve always said that I love the Canadian rules a little bit more than the NFL rules because the game moves so much faster. There’s so many more ways to score,” he explained.

“The field, of course, has a little bit to do with that, the width of it, but there’s no question that the NFL could use some more of the rules that are up in Canada to make their game a little bit faster, a little bit more exciting down in the United States.”