Cincinnati Bengals: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Anthony Munoz, Cincinnati Bengals
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56. . OT. (1980-92). Anthony Muñoz. 1. player

  • Pro Football Hall of Fame (1998)
  • NFL Man of the Year (1991)
  • NFL 75th Anniversary Team
  • NFL 1980s All-Decade Team
  • 11x Pro Bowl (1981-91)
  • 9x First-Team All-Pro (1981-83, 1985-90)
  • 2x Second-Team All-Pro (1984, 1990)
  • Cincinnati Bengals 40th Anniversary Team

The greatest Bengal of all-time is without question left tackle Anthony Muñoz. Not only is he the only former Bengals great that has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he’s arguably one of the best non-quarterbacks to have ever played the sport. He is on a short list of Bruce Matthews and Jonathan Ogden as the greatest offensive tackles of all-time.

Muñoz was a two-sport athlete at USC, playing both baseball and football for the Trojans. While the football talent was obviously there, concerns over the health of his knees might have knocked his draft stock down a peg. He only played in 16 games in two seasons as an upperclassmen at USC.

But that did not matter what so ever in the Bengals’ eyes. They just knew that Muñoz was a stud ripe for the picking at No. 3 in the 1980 NFL Draft. Muñoz spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the Bengals. He won a starting job at left tackle as a rookie in 1980, but then rattled off 11 straight trips to the Pro Bowl from 1981 to 1991.

Muñoz was an All-Pro in all of those 11 seasons from 1981 to 1991. He made the All-Pro first team nine times and the All-Pro second team twice. Naturally, he earned a spot on the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team and the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team. No doubt he made the Bengals 40th Anniversary Team when it was unveiled in 2007.

Muñoz was there for both of the Bengals’ runs to the Super Bowl in the 1980s. He protected Ken Anderson’s blind side in Super Bowl XVI in 1981 and kept Boomer Esiason clean in Super Bowl XXIII in 1988. However, both games for the Bengals resulted in losses to the Joe Montana/Bill Walsh San Francisco 49ers by less than a touchdown each time.

In 1991, you could kind of begin to see the wear and tear mount on Muñoz. He did make it to his 11th straight Pro Bowl, but missed three games and didn’t earn a spot on either All-Pro team. His final season in Cincinnati had him only playing in eight games, as he failed to make a Pro Bowl for the first time since his rookie season in 1980.

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1991 did yield another huge accolade on Muñoz’s football resume. He was named Walter Payton Man of the Year. A short seven years later, Muñoz would earn his spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a first-ballot inductee. His Canton classmates include Paul Krause, Tommy McDonald and Mike Singletary. Maybe one day there will be a player as great as Muñoz was for the Bengals? Until then, he’s by far and away the best to have ever graced the Queen City gridiron.