The Bengals received widespread praise over the course of this past weekend regarding the team’s selections in the 2013 NFL Draft. And while we’ll still need a few years before we can determine if that praise was made in good judgment, the organization has clearly made marked improvement in the past handful of drafts when it comes to recognizing and selecting talent. However, the recent stretch of strong picks isn’t the only draft-related accomplishment worthy of applause.
On this date back in 1980, the Cincinnati Bengals selected offensive lineman Anthony Muñoz with the third overall pick. The Southern California product played 13 seasons in stripes, finishing his career as unquestionably the best player in franchise history, as well as an easy argument for the best offensive tackle the game has ever seen. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.
Quick story: years ago, as a youngster, I attended a Bengals training camp with my father at Georgetown College. Muñoz was in attendance, sitting in a golf cart parked off the main practice field. My dad convinced me to walk over and ask Muñoz for an autograph, which he (of course) amiably obliged to, his massive hands enveloping my regulation-size football like it was a plastic Easter egg. Sitting next to him in the golf cart happened to be Dave Lapham, a former Bengals lineman himself and current radio broadcaster for the team. While signing, Muñoz wryly asked, “You don’t want Lap’s autograph, do you?”
“Not really,” my younger self managed, half out of nervousness, half out of ignorance (at the time, I only knew of Lapham as the Bengals radio guy).
“I didn’t think so,” quipped Muñoz, cracking a smirk, before Lap added, “Smart choice, kid. You don’t want my scrawl screwing up the Hall-of-Famer’s.”
Thanks for signing that ball, Mr. Muñoz. (And thanks to Lap for playing along.)