For Hispanic Heritage Month, we honor the contributions figures likeAnthony Muñoz, Ron Rivera, and Tom Flores have made to the game of football.
Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 15. This coincides with the league’s Por la Cultura initiative until Oct. 15, which aims to celebrate stories and elevate the Latinx community.
Today, we take a look at some of the all-time greatest Hispanic players to ever play and coach in the National Football League.
Flores had two lives in the NFL: one as a quarterback for 10 years, and the other as a coach for 24 more. Flores’ playing career wasn’t as prolific as his run on the sidelines, however.
During his time as a quarterback for the Raiders, where he became the first-ever Hispanic starting QB in NFL history, Flores had just two winning seasons. After he retired, he served as an assistant coach for the Raiders and won Super Bowl XI before eventually succeeding John Madden as head coach of the Silver and Black. In his first five seasons, Flores won two Super Bowls as a head coach (XV and XVIII).
The son of immigrants from Chihuahua, Mexico, Flores was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this year.
If you consider Tony Gonzalez to be the greatest tight end to ever grace the football field, you’ll find legions upon legions of fans who agree. While the former Kansas City Chief and Atlanta Falcon never captured an ever-elusive Super Bowl ring, he ranks third among all players in NFL history in receptions, sixth in receiving yards, and ninth in touchdowns.
In each category, Gonzalez is the highest-ranked tight end.
After retiring from the league following the 2013 season, the 14-time Pro Bowler served as a CBS analyst until this year when he chose to leave the network to pursue other media opportunities across TV and film. His ancestry includes Argentinian roots through his maternal grandfather.
Before Rivera earned his coaching alias “Riverboat Ron,” he was a member of the Chicago Bears for nine seasons, including their famous 1985 run to the Super Bowl XX title. After retiring, he immediately went into coaching, taking numerous jobs over 15 years before landing a head coaching job with the Panthers. Rivera led the Panthers to four playoff appearances and one trip to the Super Bowl, winning NFL Coach of the Year twice in a three-year span.
Born to parents of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent, Rivera has been head coach of the Washington Football Team since 2020.
The former Dallas Cowboy turned CBS broadcaster could be considered the greatest Cowboys quarterback of all time if you set Super Bowl rings aside and focused on regular season production.
Tony Romo, whose paternal grandfather emigrated to Texas from the Mexican state of Coahuila, is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, and is second in passer rating, passing yards per game, and completions. He ranks No. 9 all-time in NFL passer rating ahead of icons like Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Peyton Manning.
Anthony Muñoz was the No. 3 pick in the 1980 NFL Draft and wenton to become the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history. The Mexican-American sports icon’s career accolades include nine First Team All-Pro honors and two Second Teams, 11 Pro Bowls, a spot on the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade, 75th Anniversary, and 100th Anniversary teams. He was additionally named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for 1991.
He played his entire career with the Cincinnati Bengals, joining their inaugural Ring of Honor earlier this year 13 years after his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
One of the most decorated linebackers in NFL history, Hendricks was born in Guatemala but raised in Miami Springs, Florida. Naturally, he chose to go to college at the University of Miami, and was later drafted in the second round of the 1969 AFL-NFL Draft.
Over the course of his 15-year career, Hendricks won four Super Bowls, was voted to eight Pro Bowls, and received six All-Pro nods, including four first teams. After he retired, he was voted to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary and 100th Anniversary All-Time teams. He made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.