April 28, 2012

The Mightiest Mestizo

It's universally assumed that as the Mexican-American population increases, integration and assimilation will ensue. Yet, I keep recalling great Mexican-American athletes of the past, such as Pancho Gonzales, Lee Trevino, and Nancy Lopez, who lack contemporary counterparts. 

Recently, an ESPN article "NFL Draft Lacks Latinos" predicted that few Hispanics would be drafted. Indeed, through the first three rounds or 96 picks, there was only one Spanish surname called, and Kendall Reyes is definitely not Mexican.

And this reminded me of a Mexican-American guy of my age from Ontario, California (Inland Empire) who ranks right at the top of offensive linemen in the history of the NFL, Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz. I'm not a football expert, but I typed into Google "greatest offensive linemen" and one article from 2010 concluded its top ten list with:
#1 Greatest NFL Offensive Lineman of All Time: Anthony Muñoz 
Anthony Muñoz is the greatest offensive lineman of all time. At left tackle, Muñoz was the total package of size, strength, athleticism, and technique. In the passing game, Muñoz routinely shut down the game's best defensive ends and outside linebackers. In the running game, Muñoz could wall off his man for two counts, throw him onto the ground, and rumble downfield to wreak havoc on pesky linebackers and defensive backs. As a receiver, Muñoz also hauled in four touchdowns on tackle-eligible plays during his 13-year career as a Cincinnati Bengal. Anthony Muñoz mastered, perfected, and dominated his position as well as any man that has ever played any sport. Anthony Muñoz—the Gold Standard franchise left tackle.

A lot of top ten lists on the Internet are content farm produce. There aren't many statistics on offensive linemen, so there's no way to conclude the argument over who was the greatest ever. But Muñoz is definitely in the argument, and might well be the favorite.

This is kind of weird when you stop and think about it. Because of the huge increase in population, there ought to be more famous Mexican-Americans today in more different fields than there were in the past, but it doesn't really look like that, does it?

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mexican-Americans are flying under the radar for some strange reason.

Anonymous said...

They are 'flying under the radar', because they are not taking off in the first place.

Imagine if all the Hispanic immigrants who have moved to American since 1965 had been White Europeans?

They would, I suspect, have made a greater benficial impact on America.

Evil Sandmich said...

Anthony Muñoz is held in high regard in Cincinnati by old timers like me because he was so great but stayed with the organization despite the fact that he was (many felt) under paid by Paul Brown.

Anonymous said...

Oh Christ, more boring stuff about sports.

btw, what's with this "draft" language in sports, anyway? It's not a moral or political obligation to play team sports.

Let all the 'afleets' piss off to Hell or Connaught. (Actually not to Connaught, they don't need any more Vibrancy there. How about a nice used car dealership? In Africa?)

pat said...

People of all races are made from the same materials. Although when I watch Jon Jones or Anderson Silva fight, it's hard to remember that. These black guys are so dominant you are tempted to think they must be not merely a different species but a whole different life form.

Racial differences show up in the weight classes. In World's Strongest Man the winners are always Slavs or Nordics. The average WSM contestant is 6'4" and 300 lbs. There aren't many Filipinos that size. On the other end of the distribution in Ninja Warrior the sport was designed to favor the small Japanese. Only three men have ever won and none of them weighs more than 130 lbs.

Mexicans like Munoz used to dominate the welterweight and lightweight divisons of traditional boxing. There are an awful lot of small men from south of the border, as anyone who has seen a street corner full of illegals looking for work will know.

Independent probabilities multiply. Famous athletes are almost by definition in the 99th percentile of their population cohort. But that one percent must be multiplied by the incidence of their body size in their ethnic-racial division. That means that race matters. Klischko(s) comes from a segment of real big guys - Russians. Manny Pacquiao competes in weight divisions that have no Russians as far as I know.

Instead of heavyweight and lightweight champs they could use the terms "North West Caucasian" Champion and "South East Asian" Champion.

Munoz seems to be an exception or as we say on this blog, an outlier.

Albertosaurus

James O'Meara said...

Remember around 2000 or so there was all kinds of talk about "Latino culture", mostly music, of course [they launched the "Latin Grammys" for example; imagine a "Germanic Grammys"], but some athletes, and movie "stars" -- even Spaniards like Penelope Cruz re-christened themselves 'Latina' which no real Spaniard would ever have done before.

And you're right -- nothing ever came of it. I get all kinda "latino" cable channels but its all the same, and all from around 2000. Women look like hookers, men smoking, real old school stuff. What happened? Was it entirely fake, some kinda aborted marketing idea? Or does it reflect the well-known stodginess of Spanish culture; imagine combining the time sense of Spain and the Maya!

Anonymous said...

Any criticism of lack of Hispanics, whatever that means, in the NFL won't fly. Diversifying is only good, needed and beneficial when the entity to be diversified is dominated by White people.

Robert Holmgren said...

Placekickers used to be dominated by foreign nationals. These are people who kicked the ball sideways like soccer players. Ever since white Americans figured out how to kick in this style fewer Latinos were brought into the NFL. Oddly, placekicking seems to be the only position where black players haven't excelled.

Anonymous said...

The only sport in the US where they seem to be doing well is in the lower-weight divisions of boxing.

John Cunningham said...

Munoz, one of the all-time great Cincy Bengals, still lives in Cincinnati. he is active in local advertising and in community events.

Anti-Gnostic said...

LOL: Munoz has two strikes guaranteeing his anonimity: he's Mex-American, and he's OL. They'll NEVER write about him.

Speaking of offensive linemen, there has got to be some award for most under appreciated athletes. Here in Atlanta, the strangely non-jock brain trust for the Falcons decided Harvey Dahl was expendable and the OL hasn't been the same since. Our spindly, high-dollar QB is a punching bag.

It's always surprised me that Jerry Kramer is not in the Hall of Fame. I think the Steelers' OL from their 70's dream team was inducted but I can't think of anybody else. It's pretty remarkable even the ultimate insiders in the NFL don't really care much about offensive linemen.

Anonymous said...

I thought I read once that he is half Polynesian, which may say something about his size and strength. A quality guy, regardless. I found it interesting that his son Michael, an All-American at Tennessee, was not drafted by the NFL. Maybe they were afraid he would turn out like his father?

Anonymous said...

Mestizos tend to be short with short legs and arms too, physical proclivities that don't lend themselves to excelling in many sports. How many Mesitzos come close to being built like Munoz?

Hispanics have done well in baseball, but Mexicans..not really.

Anonymous said...

I'd imagine that Football as it exists today is totally alien from Football that existed a half century ago, and with everything optimized towards fast twitch muscles/steroids there is less opportunity for a simply good player, regardless of background, to make it. Maybe the Mexicans just don't bring in the revenue(another huge change) and they've been phased out for that reason.

Anonymous said...

Munoz was great, but no John Hannah.

ATBOTL said...

All the Mexican immigrants in the North East are five foot tall Indians. I doubt we will be seeing many of them in professionalism sports ever. But even a population like this will have giants and some of them will be athletic.

Steve Sailer said...

"I thought I read once that he is half Polynesian,"

Interesting ... I spent a lot of time looking at photos of him trying to decide if he's part black, like Tony Gonzalez, but part Polynesian seems more possible.

Steve Sailer said...

But I haven't found anything saying he's part Samoan or Hawaiian.

Pincher Martin said...

I had no idea Anthony Muñoz played the hulking Mexican hospital orderly "Gonzales" in the movie The Right Stuff.

Muñoz certainly looks a lot different in the movie than he does in his photos.

jigger statz said...

It could be that that Mexicans, famously high-strung types, are unsuited as offensive lineman because OL's have to be mostly passive - the rules prevent them from striking out with aggression against their opponent except on running plays, which are less and less common in the modern, TV-dominated NFL. For this, unemotional Scandinavianism doubtless helps. On the other hand, it's not as if you see a lot of Mexican-American linebackers either, so maybe it's something else. But I agree with a commenter above, affletes are boring, and I'd rather birdwatch any day.

Anonymous said...

Mestizos tend to be short with short legs and arms too, physical proclivities that don't lend themselves to excelling in many sports.

Doesn't that body type also occur in the strip of land from Bulgaria to Mongolia? And don't many wrestlers and weight-lifters come from that region?

Anonymous said...

What, no love for two time Superbowl winnng quarterback Jim Plunkett, the most famous mestizo with a white last name this side of...well, you know who?

Steve Sailer said...

Oh, so that was Anthony Munoz as the giant Chicano orderly who escorts Alan Shepard on the elevator in the memorable Barium Enema scene of The Right Stuff? Cool.

Justin said...

Narrowly focusing on the golf front, a lot of poor whites, hispanics, and blacks got into the game because they started as caddies. Golf has become more elitist as carts replaced caddies.

DYork said...

Hey, don't forget Max Montoya a fellow SoCal MexAmer who played next to Munoz at guard for the Bengals.

And then along with pointing out the Filipino ancestry of Roman Gabriel don't for get about Quarterback Joe Kapp's Mexican ancestry.

Then there was Gab Rivera who could have been an all time great lineman until a car crash paralyzed him.

So thirty years ago the NFL could have had at least three hulking, all pro lineman of Mexican ancestry.

DaveinHackensack said...

Anon @ 4:56: Hundreds of millions (if not billions) of people find sports interesting. If you don't, that's cool, but must you whine about Steve writing a post about sports? Or do you expect that a prominent blogger's post topics conform 100% with your interests?

Pat,

The Klitschkos are Ukrainian. There was a Russian champ in Pacquio's weight class several years ago named Kostya Tszyu, but he was of partial Asian ancestry.

Anonymous said...

He's got an Erik Estrada look about him. And an impressive set of choppers!

E. Rekshun said...

Isn't Jim Plunkett's heritage American Indian and White? Oh, he also won the Heisman playing for Stanford in 1970.

Anonymous said...

Klitschko's killed heavyweight boxing biz in the USA!

They're way too white and the scots-irish media is not going to promote big strong white guys pummeling non-whites... especially magic negroes!

Must. Have. Black. Champions.

It's for the children.

Maxi said...

If you're really that desperate for Mexican athletes, you should try peering into MMA and the UFC again.

Mexicans and Hispanics/Brazilians have a pretty significant presence and winning championships is certainly not rare. Maybe that's where their potential lies, someone like Gilbert Melendez can be argued to be the best lightweight mixed martial artist in the world.

Tony said...

Remember Joe Kapp of the Vikings. He was a pretty decent quarterback. Now we got Mark Sanchez.

Anonymous said...

"Because of the huge increase in population, there ought to be more famous Mexican-Americans today in more different fields than there were in the past, but it doesn't really look like that, does it?"

Maybe some of them are happy in their own fields that are normally invisible. Regarding sports, here's one:

http://charrosfederationusa.com/

http://charrosfederationusa.com/board-of-directors-and-members/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charreada

"At times, US champion teams compete in the national competition of Mexico."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/12/us/12charro.html?pagewanted=all

"“You get really emotional, because everyone is looking at you representing Mexican tradition,” said Elizabeth Solis, a sophomore at San Joaquin Delta College..."
... "“While U.S. rodeo has become more like N.F.L. football, the charreada is a cultural practice,”..."

http://www.sacharro.com/index2.php


Steve, you probably recall various news stories in California and other southwest states about bans on "horse tripping", animal-cruelty versus minority culture, etc.. Lots of links.

I knew plenty of guys in high school that had to decide to go football or rodeo. This often came up because you could go pro-rodeo at high school age. It could be a hard decision.

kaganovitch said...

Antignostic said "It's always surprised me that Jerry Kramer is not in the Hall of Fame. I think the Steelers' OL from their 70's dream team was inducted but I can't think of anybody else. It's pretty remarkable even the ultimate insiders in the NFL don't really care much about offensive linemen."

Whether you can think of any offhand is not a very significant metric. As it happens there are 37 offensive linemen in NFL HOF, more than any other category,(I realize there are 5 offensive linemen but nevertheless more than supposedly more visible defensive linemen)

Anonymous said...

Latina athletes? In MMA you have Rhonda Rousey, the Title holder in the 135# division.
A blonde who was picked on in Catholic school for not looking Mex-Amer enough; which may partially account for her 'rage in the ring' aggressiveness. She uses judo to arm bar her opponents into submission. In 4 out of 5 bouts it has been in under a minute! If they don't 'tap-out' she'll snap their arms. Maybe a genetic component as well considering her mother was Americas' first women's judo champion? Whatever the case may be, Ms. Rouseys' skill set is so far above her competition she essentially has none.

ben tillman said...

It's universally assumed that as the Mexican-American population increases, integration and assimilation will ensue. Yet, I keep recalling great Mexican-American athletes of the past, such as Pancho Gonzales, Lee Trevino, and Nancy Lopez, who lack contemporary counterparts.

And, in music, Jerry Garcia and Carlos Santana.

Anonymous said...

Tony Romo is the Cowboys version of Eli Manning at that level beneath elite but above Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez and (to be named later.).

Wait! Tony Romo is more expensive than Eli Manning but not as good so has Jerrah made Tony Romo a dearer cut price person of Mexican origin thereby buying himself a famous theoretical Giffin Good?

Prize Economics in Memory of Alfred Nobel for Jerry Jones.

But no Superbowl!