Munoz stays in football game
Hall of Famer hosts camps for Hispanic youths
LOS ANGELES – Anthony Munoz, just the second Mexican-American inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is using the sport now to do something he could not when he was an offensive lineman and preoccupied on the field.
Still a hulking figure at 6-6, Munoz travels across the country hosting football camps designed to teach Hispanic youths not only the sport, but also character development and team building. Munoz, now 60, said he started the camps through his non-profit foundation 18 years ago and since has partnered with the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Our president at the Hall of Fame says it best,” Munoz told USA TODAY. “He talks about how we have an opportunity not to develop Hall of Fame players but Hall of Fame people. That’s always been a passion of mind, to use the platform I’ve been given and to do that.
“I believe if you develop young men and women of character, high integrity, they’re going to be productive in whatever they do.”
It served that purpose for Munoz, who grew up in Southern California and in 1991 was named NFL Man of the Year. On Saturday, drawn in part by an iconic trophy, Munoz will visit his football roots when he returns to the University of Southern California, where he was an All-American in 1978 and 1979, to watch the Trojans play Colorado.
Before the game, from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. PT on the South Lawn at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Munoz will make an appearance with the Amway Coaches Trophy, awarded in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Association every year to the winner of the College Football Playoff.
A national football championship is one of the few things Munoz didn’t win. He was a pitcher on USC’s national championship baseball team in 1978, and during his NFL career with the Bengals from 1980 to 1992 he made 11 Pro Bowl appearances.
But he talks far more about his youth football camps, which next month will take him to Mexico City.
“People think, ‘Well, do they know football at all (in Mexico)?’ And from the ’80s they’ve been football fans,” Munoz said, adding the sport’s popularity in the Hispanic community has grown since he partnered with the NFL seven years ago. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in fan development and it’s been exciting.”
College football also remains a passion for Munoz, who has enough grandchildren (11) to field a football team, albeit a young one with twin 2-year-olds among the brood.
“There’s still some good, line-’em-up, smash hits,” he said. “But to me it’s like everybody is trying to spread it out and be kind of a showtime, run-and-gun type of thing.
“I still love watching the teams that can throw the ball all over the place but still line up there, put their hand down and they’re going to bust you in the mouth and run the ball pretty effectively. I think it’s still a great game.”
Retired Bengals offensive lineman Anthony Munoz, who was inducted in 1998, took part in this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame parade.