Updated: 5:50 p.m.
It wasn't all that long ago that Willie Anderson wore out the path from his home around the corner to that old grocery store called Food World so he could leaf through the sports magazines and dream about his name appearing in the glossy pages of Athlon.
"I was in the sixth and seventh grade and my goal was to get my name on that list of top high school players going into college," Anderson said after getting fitted for a tux Thursday. "I remember I ended up on their list as the second or third top player in the country and thinking how great that was to reach a goal like that."
Anderson plans to tell the crowd about those trips to Food World when he goes home to history Thursday night at the induction of the 2011 class of the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in his Alabama hometown.
Anderson, 35, the four-time Pro Bowler regarded as the best right tackle in Bengals history, joins former Redskins tackle Chris Samuels as the youngest members of one of the country's most glittering Halls. Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Ken Stabler, Ozzie Smith, Eddie Stanky and Bill and Vince Dooley are just some of those already enshrined. A Vigor High School graduate named the nation's best high school lineman while averaging 17 points and 15 rebounds per game in basketball, Anderson played 12 of his 13 NFL seasons in Cincinnati after an All-American career at Auburn.
"You used to have to be 40 to get in but they lowered the age for Chris and me," Anderson said. "It's a way for them to get the younger generation involved and for them to find out just how many great athletes have come through here. I mean, as a kid I knew about Satchel Paige, but I forgot all about it until now. It's an honor to be able to help them reach out to the kids that way. They take sports seriously down here."
Anderson got a taste of it Wednesday night when the class of six threw out the first ball at Hank Aaron Stadium for the BayBears minor-league game against Jacksonville. Joining Anderson and Samuels was another former NFL player, former University of Alabama wide receiver Joey Jones, as well as former Duke basketball player Antonio Lang, former LPGA golfer Susie Redman and Dorothy "Dolly" Brumfield White, an All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player at age 14 six decades ago.
"They picked up Hank Aaron's house right up out of its neighborhood and moved it next to the stadium," said Anderson, still in awe. "Historical landmark."
Anderson, who lives in Atlanta, hopes to prepare the next generation of Hall members through his traveling sports academy. His idea is to take camps teaching fundamentals from elite coaches to children across the country. He's currently working on a basketball camp in Mobile, which he says "is best known for football and baseball players."
When Anderson accepts his honor in remarks scheduled to last 10 minutes, the thoughts of that little guy at the magazine rack are going to be historical, too.
"I remember the first football player I ever saw in a picture. It was (Alabama running back) Bobby Humphrey and I became an Alabama fan and followed Bobby Humphrey all the way through when he was with Denver," Anderson said. "I kept reading Athlon when I went to college and I didn't stop reading it until I retired, really. It just always felt good to see my name knowing that's the goal I wanted to reach."
On Thursday night, the glossy magazine becomes bronzed.
MUNOZ CALLS:The franchise's best player could be announcing the next Bengals franchise quarterback.
As one of 32 NFL greats tapped by the league to make the second-round calls, Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Muñoz makes the No. 35 announcement from the podium at Radio City Hall in New York City. Muñoz was the third pick in the 1980 draft.
INDOOR UPDATE: The Bengals are continuing the process that began about five years ago when they contacted the Ohio Utility Protection Services last week to study a network for a possible indoor practice facility. Andy Furman of Cincinnati's REALTALK 1160 reported Thursday morning the team asked OUPS for permission to build.
Although no final decision has been made by the club to go ahead with the project, one of the potential sites could house the practice field that is adjacent to the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge and could be 70, 80 or 120 yards. The discussions have involved diagrams, maps and drawings and the next step would be the hiring of an architect if the project continues.