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Best Bengals Draft Pick Of All-Time: Anthony Munoz

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Selected third overall in the 1980 NFL Draft out of Southern California, Anthony Munoz would achieve so much more than any Bengals player ever has in the history of the franchise. An 11-time Pro Bowl player, a nine-time AP First-Team All-Pro selection, Munoz is on the 1980s All-Decade Team, the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time team and enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1998. He's one of a handful of players to participate in both of Cincinnati's Super Bowls, starting Super Bowls XVI and XXIII.

Everything was just as smooth as that, right?

Not quite.

On May 22, 1980, reports surfaced that the Cincinnati Bengals broke talks with Anthony Munoz's agent, Mike Trope. Trope immediately claimed that Bengals vice President Mike Brown reneged on a verbal agreement and a month later, a $13 million lawsuit was filed against the Bengals charging a "breech of contract". Since the team didn't sign Munoz, his attorney claimed that the verbal agreement was similar to a signed deal, therefore he should become a free agent.

At first it was about a broken deal before taking a more twisted turn into the the realm of unintentional racial slurs. Mike Brown sent Munoz something that prompted the prospect tackle to say, "I would feel very uncomfortable playing there," Munoz said in early July of 1980. "I don't want to play for the Bengals. That's what it comes down to."

Brown sent Munoz a Cincinnati Post article with commentary that read the "Bengals should tell Munoz and Trope to 'get lost' and called Munoz a 'Big Burrito'".

"With the large number of Spanish-speaking people here in southern California, that writer would have been lynched if that story was published out here," said Munoz. "I'm upset that the article was sent to me by the Bengals. For someone to send something like that, I feel, is just putting fuel on the fire."

Mike Brown denied that he sent the article to Munoz for any reason other than the Bengals getting their point of view to Munoz that wasn't through Trope, his agent.

A month later, the Bengals signed Munoz and the future Hall of Famer said at the time, "The contract had the numbers I wanted." The lawsuits were finally dropped and the marriage between the Bengals and Munoz finally began.

And Munoz would go to become the best Bengals player of all-time.

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