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Anthony Munoz brings NFL Play 60 Character Camp to Super Bowl LIII

Anthony Munoz brings NFL Play 60 Character Camp to Super Bowl LIII

01/29/2019
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Story courtesy of AJC

When Anthony Muñoz was a young boy growing up in Ontario, California there weren’t many programs that encouraged him to be both a great athlete and a great person. His mother, a single mom of five, had the most influence on his character as did Jim Semon, his former baseball coach, Muñoz said.

Years later, in 2002 after Muñoz launched his eponymous foundation to help build character development through the game of football, he would name the organization’s highest award for Semon. In partnership with the NFL, Muñoz, the Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle who played for the Cincinnati Bengals, takes his message of teamwork and strong character to children around the country as part of Play 60 Character Camp.

“I’m getting to honor those people who built character in my life,”said Muñoz at the Play 60 Character Camp which took place Monday during the Super Bowl LIII Experience at Georgia World Congress Center. The NFL launched Play 60 in 2007 as a national health and fitness plan designed to keep youth active for at least 60 minutes a day. NFL players and coaches support the program throughout the year.

About 300 mostly Hispanic children from Mundy Mill Learning Academy in Gainesville and Garden Hills Elementary in Atlanta, arrived to the field at the Super Bowl Experience to spend the morning participating in character development and team building activities, while also having the chance to play a bit of football. “We get to use football as the hook, but it’s not 100 percent football,” said Muñoz.

 

Alana Reyes, 9 who attends Mundy Mill said she likes to play football but her other favorite sport is soccer. “I like them the same,” she said.

For many Hispanic students, Play60 is their first real exposure to American football, said Muñoz. “Black and Caucasian kids may have better exposure to football, but the excitement is the same,” he said.

A dozen cheerleaders for the LA Rams along with former Atlanta Falcons Chris Draft, Buddy Curry and Bobby Butler and a host of volunteer coaches helped boost excitement as the children ranging in age from 9 to 12 lined up to shake hands with their hosts and put on Play 60 T-shirts before lining up in teams.

Gideon Orozco, also a student at Mundy Mill, was hesitant. “I’m not really into sports,” he said.

Maisie Rainwater, 9, who attends Garden Hills Elementary School, was wearing a Falcons jersey and was excited to get on the field and show her skills. “I want to be the first female quarterback in the NFL,” she said.

Her classmate, Mila Santagostino, 9, stood nearby wearing a Patriots T-shirt. She hoped to meet Tom Brady. “He’s my favorite quarterback,” she said.

The children rotated though activity stations, leaping in the air to catch a pass or weaving through obstacle courses of plastic cones. Muñoz reminded them that while the day was certainly about football, it was also about so much more. “Do something everyday. Walk your dog, play football…make sure you put good things into your body,” he said. “When you make decisions in your life, make decisions that are going to help you be successful.”

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