March, 20 2023
Anthony Munoz outgrew baseball, but his “safety” sport resulted in his enshrinement as the first player of primarily Hispanic descent into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A 6’6” 278-pound pitcher on USC’s College World Series championship team in 1978, Munoz felt he had a better chance to make the NFL than find a spot on an MLB roster. He devoted himself full-time to the gridiron.
Munoz suffered an injured knee in the 1979 season opener and missed the rest of the regular season but did return for the Rose Bowl against Ohio State. Munoz helped USC dominate the line of scrimmage and tailback Charles White ran for 247 yards in a 17–16 victory over the Buckeyes. It was the fourth consecutive bowl victory for the Trojans with Munoz on the line. The Cincinnati Bengals chose Munoz with the third pick of the 1980 NFL Draft despite concerns over the stability of his knee.
Munoz rewarded the Bengals’ faith in him by starting at left tackle for the next thirteen seasons, missing only three starts. He was named to eleven consecutive Pro Bowls and eleven consecutive All-Pro Teams (1981–1991). He was also named NFL Lineman of the Year three times (1981, 1987 and 1988). Off the field, Munoz became a pillar of the Cincinnati community. His work with charitable organization during his playing career led to Munoz being named the NFL Man of the Year in 1991. The Anthony Munoz Foundation was established in 2002 and has continued his philanthropic work. The foundation hosts leadership camps and awards academic scholarships to the area’s youth.
Not a bad legacy for someone who devoted himself to football because he got too big for baseball.