Anthony Muñoz Enshrinement speech
Pro Football Hall of Fame
August 1, 1998
Thank you. I know that you expect me to introduce to you another great football player. And, in a way, I am. I’m not going to focus on the fact that he was the No. 1 draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1980. Despite the fact that he suffered three knee injuries out of four years, including his senior season at USC. I’m not going to focus on him being the first player ever selected to 11 consecutive Pro Bowls. Or his unanimous selection to the team of the decade. Or even the NFL 75th Anniversary Team.
Instead, I’m going to use this time to say thanks to my dad for what he has meant in my life. Dad, thank you for always being there. By coming home when you could have gone out with the guys. Or by not taking jobs so you could watch me and Michelle play basketball and football. Thank you for taking us with you whenever and wherever you could. I never remember watching you play, but I always remember being there. I remember going to Spinney Field, I remember going to Pro Bowls, trying to catch Reggie Roby’s mile-high punts. Getting Bruce Smith’s shoe autographed and getting Howie Long’s practice jersey. I thank you for keeping us in your heart when you’re away on the road. By bringing us gifts or calling us on the phone to let us know that you love us. Thanks for always being there.
And thank you for always being consistent in your work ethic. I remember Michelle and I would go to Sycamore High School. And you’d be running and you would run and run and run. And me and Michelle would say, ‘Are you done yet?’ And he would start his sprints. And thank you for being consistent in your walk with the lord. You’ve always been consistent in leading our daily prayers. No matter what happens, good or bad, easy or hard, I’ve seen you trust God and be consistent in what you say and what you do. Thank you for always being there, always being consistent, but most of all thank you for always being a real person. You’ve been my model. I’ve learned to say ‘I’m sorry. I was wrong’ from you being big enough to admit your mistakes. You have modeled humility. I have learned to respect women because of the how you have loved and respected Mom.
You’ve also been my mentor. You’ve taught me technique, strategy, moves and drills. You’ve taught me how to let my actions speak louder than my words. And to make people more important than things. And finally you’ve shown me how to be a man. Recently, in Ontario, California where you grew up, his former classmates and friends all had the same basic thing to say about him. Everybody knew who the big man on campus was. Except for one person and that was him. Humility has always been a hallmark for your life. You have showed me strength under control and how to be tough while still being tender. You are a real man.
Ladies and gentleman, I’d like to introduce to you a great football player, a great friend, a great father and a great husband. He is a man who stands tall among men because he is a man who walks with God. He is a man of God. I introduce to you my father, Anthony Muñoz. (applause).
Thank you. These past few days we’ve been celebrating as a family. Yesterday, we had an opportunity to celebrate a miracle and a gift that happened 17 years ago. Seventeen years ago, I remember going into a team meeting right about 7 o’clock, my second year in the NFL. My wife was due with our first child. I got a knock on the team meeting room door, and then I flew down highway 71 to be at the hospital for our first child, Michael Muñoz was born. And I’m thankful. And Michael, it is an honor to have you introduce me today. Thank you very much.
Also 19 months after Michael was born, we were blessed with a daughter. There is another very special gift. I’d like to introduce our daughter Michelle. Stand up. (applause). And also my best friend for the last 20 years, my wife DeDe (applause). Someone who could not be here that saddens me very much is my mother, Esther Muñoz, who had an accident several weeks ago, broke her hip, was in the hospital. And Mom, I miss you.
Back in 1980, I was offered an opportunity. An opportunity by the late Paul Brown. I was offered an opportunity by Paul Brown and his son, Mike Brown, who is here today. Mike’s brother, Paul’s son, Pete Brown. The Brown family – they offered me an opportunity as they drafted me with the No. 3 pick in the NFL. An opportunity to play in the NFL. As they sent Forrest Gregg out to Los Angeles – right here (Anthony points to the tent at the side of the stage where Gregg sat with other members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame). After going through those three knee operations in four years at USC, they sent Forrest Gregg out to work me out at USC to see if this guy was worthy of being picked. I won’t go into details, but I knew who Forrest was. I knew he was a Hall of Fame tackle. He was putting me through a workout. So, I needed to show him that I was worthy for them to pick me. He put me through some drills, and I moved along and all of sudden he decided to pass rush me. I wasn’t sure how to react, but I reacted like any offensive lineman would react. He made a move inside, made a move outside. Just as he made them, I stuck both hands right into his chest and jammed him to the ground. You better believe I was scared. I extended a hand, I apologized, and he said, ‘No problem.’ He smiled. He goes, ‘That’s OK.' And Sam Wyche, who coached me for eight years in the Cincinnati Bengals, also. They gave me an opportunity that I am so grateful for. When a lot of people did not give me a chance to go to an NFL camp, the Brown family and Bengal organization gave me that opportunity.
You know, a lot of times when we strive to get to the pinnacle of our profession, it’s like a triangle. You reach the pinnacle and you have a broad base of people – just like each and every one of you – that make that possible. Well, I had those people. Lots of people. And it started as a kid. But through my pro career, preparing me for my pro career, I go back to USC. They gave me an opportunity to attend the University of Southern California and play football there, coached by John Robinson. My offensive line coach, Hutson Hauck, who built that foundation as I was drafted in 1980 with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Not to mention when I was a 6-year-old kid in Ontario, California. And as I would get on my bicycle and try to play as many baseball games as possible during the summer. And we would go the Parks and Recreation, where Jim Semon would open up the shed to allow us to play. And that, as a 6-year-old kid, Jim Semon would provide a baseball glove for us to play baseball. That was an opportunity that I had as a kid. Thank you, Jim.
It’s opportunities like that that motivate me now as an adult to put in the energy and time in charitable causes in the community of Cincinnati to provide those opportunities for those that have a dream, that want to accomplish something. To give those people that God has created to make the most of the gift that he has given them. That’s why I take the time because it’s the people that have allowed me to reach the pinnacle of my career.
And also, I was offered instruction. Of course at the professional level. 1980 as a rookie, the Bengals had just hired an offensive line coach – about 5-foot-9, 5-foot-10, Jim McNally, who is not here today, is the offensive line coach at Carolina. And I believe his daughter Jenny is here to represent him. I’m not sure where she is but she is here. Jim McNally taught me a lot. Jim was the kind of guy -- my first two off-seasons I lived in southern California -- and about 10 o’clock at night, he would call me. After viewing tapes all summer or all off-season, he would say, ‘I found some new technique. Get down in your stance and I’ll show you what to do.’ So the first time he calls me, I have the phone in my ear and I get down in my stance and he says, ‘Now shift your weight to your left, shift it to the right.’ Now I’m sitting there only have played one year in the NFL and I’m doing everything he says. And we’re 2,000 miles apart from each other. Well, I’ve told him this. The second time he calls and goes, ‘I’ve got something else, get down in your stance.’ So I’m laying on the bed and say, ‘OK, I’m in my stance.' ‘Shift to the left.' I said, 'OK.' I roll over and grab the pillow. I say, ‘I feel it.’ I thank Jim McNally for all those years, the 13 years I had him as my offensive line coach.
And in college, my college teammates who taught me what it meant to work and work hard. Guys like Brad Budde, who came from an NFL football family background and he got to USC and it looked like he had been lifting weights since kindergarten. He taught me what it meant to work extremely hard and prepare yourself for the upcoming season.
And it was people like my brother Joe, who’s right here in front – Joe, stand up – and his wife, Barbara. It was individuals like my brother Joe and my brother Tom, who is not here today, that taught me ‘you just go out and play and let your playing do the talking. You don’t have to say anything. Be competitive, be intense but let people see your humility.’ And I appreciate them for those lessons that they taught me. That performance will speak louder than whatever you say. I was offered encouragement. I’ll never forget the 13 years at Riverfront Stadium and the jungle that was established right there on the river down in Cincinnati. I appreciate all the encouragement from the fans – week in and week out – and even now after being out of the league for five years, as Cincinnati is our home and we go about town and a lot of encouragement.
Also, the encouragement and the support as I look out and see guys that aren’t your normal-sized guys. Guys sitting out right in front of me that were part of Super Bowl XVI offensive line and Super Bowl XXIII offensive line. Guys, take a, take a stand right here. Guys that I played with, right here, offensive lineman, right here. The encouragement that they offered me throughout my career.
And not to mention the encouragement that my mother, Esther, gave me growing up as a kid. The lessons she taught me, work ethic and courage and toughness and mental toughness as she battled through most of her life fighting arthritis and had both knees replaced. Those are the lessons that I’m thankful for, the encouragement that my mom gave. The opportunity she offered and the instruction she offered me as a kid.
And one other gentleman that I would like to mention. As I was in Advanced Comp class in high school and I was not doing too well during the basketball season. And my assistant baseball coach, Mike Alonzo, pulled me aside and said – he knew that baseball was my first love in high school – he said, ‘Now, if you don’t get this class going in the right direction, you won’t be able to play baseball.’ And Michael, I thank you for that encouragement in high school.
And as I mentioned earlier, my best friend for the last 20 years, my wife, DeDe. I thank you for all the years of support, encouragement and love and standing by me through the good times and through the bad times. You just mean so much to me and I appreciate you. And I appreciate you every – more and more every day we’re together. Thank you. I appreciate that.
As I wrap it up, I think about all the opportunity I was offered, the encouragement, the instruction I was offered. And it allowed me to do only one thing and that is offer my life, make my life an offering. See, because in my second year in the NFL, I knew I wasn’t motivated by the money, I knew I wasn’t motivated by the notoriety. And I sat in my hotel room the night before the season opener and there had to be more to playing in the NFL. And I realized as I looked through the scripture that there is more than playing in the NFL. That I was to present my body as a living sacrifice and that was my way to worship God. And you talk about intensity and competitiveness, that’s exciting. You see, and as I met the gentleman that sculpted this bust, Blair Buswell, and I sat there with him for two days, and he brought in all – just the details. And I look at God, at how God has sculpted this person and brought the details in with all the people I’ve mentioned and has allowed me to be the person I am. And that’s what I’m thankful for.
And I’m thankful to the Selection Committee for this great, great honor – the privilege of being with all these other enshrinees. What a thrill for a kid out of Ontario, California, to be sitting here in Canton, Ohio, and saying thank you, thank you, thank you and God bless you. (Applause).