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Anthony Munoz: 1958—: Former Professional Football Player

A Young Athlete

Munoz grew up in Ontario, California, with his two brothers and two sisters. Munoz's mother, Esther, raised the family by herself, as Munoz's father left the family when Munoz was very young. Although his father lived close by, Munoz only saw him twice, once when he was five and once when he was 12 years old. Munoz told Jay Greenberg of Sports Illustrated, "I never had a father, so I never knew what I was missing. As I look back, I don't even know if I was poor. We were provided for, but we didn't have any extras." Although his family didn't have a car, they were fortunate enough to have relatives who did; his aunt and uncle often took Munoz out to dinner.

His mother worked at a local farm, packing eggs. Munoz and his brother, Tom, occasionally worked there on weekends when extra help was needed, but his mother encouraged Munoz to use his free time to pursue his athletic interests. Munoz spent much of that free time playing baseball. When he was five he looked several years older, so he was able to play in almost any game he chose. He ended up playing on so many teams that when two such teams played each other, they would end up arguing over who would get Munoz.

Although Munoz loved baseball, he was naturally big and powerful, and was often advised that he was built for football. When he was offered a football scholarship to Southern California University, he accepted it with the stipulation that he be allowed to play on the school's baseball team in the spring. However, knee injuries from playing football prevented him from playing baseball, except during his sophomore year.

In the opening game of his senior season, Munoz suffered a knee injury that required reconstructive surgery. Although his coaches and teammates thought he should take a year off, he refused. He made it to that season's Rose Bowl, where he was spotted by Cincinnati Bengals' founder and general manager, Paul Brown, as well as Brown's sons—Pete, who was player personnel director, and Mike, who was assistant general manager. They laughed at their good fortune in finding him. "The guy was so big and so good it was a joke," Mike Brown told Sports Illustrated. Munoz was chosen third in the draft. Many years later, Munoz modestly told SI's Greenberg, "Why would an offensive lineman get all this attention? I don't know why, but I'm fortunate. I use it as a motivator."

At a Glance . . .

Born on August 19, 1958, in Ontario, California; married DeDe Munoz; children: Michael, Michelle. Education: University of Southern California, 1976-79. Religion: Christian.

Career: Offensive tackle, Cincinnati Bengals, 1980-92.

Awards: All-Pro, 1981-91; NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year, 1981, 1987, 1988; selected to NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team; Pro Football Hall of Fame, 1998; University of Southern California Athletic Hall of Fame, 1999.

Munoz, who is known for his strong Christian beliefs, became interested in spiritual matters in college. Munoz told Andrew Chow in the Dayton Daily News that when someone asked how he was doing spiritually, he thought, "Is that what life is all about—being All-American or being in this magazine or that magazine? I knew there had to be more to life than that."

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) BiographyAnthony Munoz: 1958—: Former Professional Football Player Biography - A Young Athlete, Joined Cincinnati Bengals, Retired From The Nfl