ORLANDO, Fla. - Anthony Muñoz, the greatest Bengal of them all, has another big day Monday in a career of big days in the NFL.
"This is like the Super Bowl. It's huge,' said Muñoz Sunday morning as he sipped a coffee in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel reflecting on his most recent partnership with the NFL.
The Ritz is where Muñoz and his son Michael are scheduled to make a five-to-10 minute presentation to the NFL's full ownership group in the opening session of the league's annual meeting. It doesn't get much bigger for a player that has appeared in two Super Bowls, 11 Pro Bowls, and delivered a Hall of Fame address at the age of 39 when he was inducted in his first year of eligibility.
The man who presented him that day in Canton, Michael, runs the Muñoz Agency with his father and he'll also speak Monday morning on a topic that has become Anthony's passion. Two years ago their agency, a marketing firm, approached the NFL about using the character camps that have become a staple of the Anthony Muñoz Foundation in Cincinnati and incorporating them into the NFL's Play 60 program as a Hispanic initiative
Now after the camps have been staged in 14 NFL cites, father and son are reporting their progress to the owners and commissioner Roger Goodell.
"About 65 to70 percent of the kids are Hispanic and it's been their first exposure to American football and the NFL," Anthony Muñoz said. "It's so exciting because we feel like we're helping bring into the fold new NFL fans. The Hispanic population is exploding and the younger generation is going to be the new fans. The big reason I'm doing it is because it's only 50 percent football and the rest is we're teaching the kids about team building and character."
Muñoz feels it's a significant moment because while Michael plans to run through the demographics for the owners, Anthony is going to talk about how the only Hispanic in the Hall of Fame has stayed connected with the league during 22 years of retirement and has now partnered a business with it. There is no pitch, but the program can always use more support if it is going to expand into other cities.
In the first year the Muñozes hit San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Houston, Miami, Tampa, and New York. This year, among others, they moved into Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.
"I'm not sure how much the owners themselves know about the initiative," Muñoz said. "The teams have been very supportive with the people we've been dealing with on the public relations level, but it will be good for the owners to hear about it and to let them know we're right there in the community."
The Bengals were one of a handful of teams to host the event at their facility.
"That's always a big deal,' Muñoz said, "because how many times do kids get to run around on an NFL field?"
Twenty-two years later after he last stepped on one, Muñoz is still running.