Munoz stays in foot­ball game

Hall of Famer hosts camps for His­panic youths

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Josh Pe­ter

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.”

KIRBY LEE/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Re­tired Ben­gals of­fen­sive line­man An­thony Munoz, who was in­ducted in 1998, took part in this year’s Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame pa­rade.

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