Moon’s Oilers were playing the Jets in the final game of the regular season. The Oilers were 11-4 and Moon was resting some sore ribs before the playoffs.
Houston’s defensive coordinator was Buddy Ryan. Its offensive coordinator was Kevin Gilbride. One couldn’t stand the sight of the other.
“It started brewing in the offseason when Buddy was brought in,” Moon said. “His 46 defense was known for how tough and physical it was. But our run-and-shoot offense used to kill him in practice. He didn’t know how to defend it. So it became a big ego thing and our head coach, Jack Pardee, didn’t nip it in the bud.”
Ryan mocked the offense, calling it the “chuck-and-duck.” He also didn’t like how its quick possessions kept his defense on the field for longer stretches.
“And things came to a head [against the Jets],” Moon said.
The Oilers led 14-0 with less than a minute left in the first half. The Jets had just gone three and out and Ryan was calling for the offense to run out the clock. But even with backup quarterback Cody Carlson in the game, Gilbride called a pass play. Carlson fumbled the ball away as he was being sacked.
On the sideline, Ryan started yelling at Gilbride. Gilbride started walking toward Ryan. When they got within striking distance, Ryan landed a right cross to the jaw of the bigger, younger Gilbride.
“It was good for Buddy’s sake that some of the defensive players pulled him back,” Moon said. “Kevin and I used to lift weights together. I knew how strong Kevin was. Kevin would have destroyed him. Buddy was an old man at that time. But he was an old, feisty man who thought he could take a swing at another guy on the sideline.”
And with that, the Oilers trotted, ho-hum, to the locker room.
“It really didn’t surprise me because I’ve seen coaches down on the ground wrestling at halftime in the locker room,” Moon said. “This just happened to take place on the sideline with cameras watching. Pardee kind of addressed it, but he really didn’t spend much time on it. It was just, ‘Hey, it’s kind of part of the game. Emotions got involved. It’s over, just move on.’ So, yeah, all this sideline stuff everyone talks about really doesn’t surprise those of us who have been there.”