Anthony “A.J.” Muniz is a hardcore Toledo Rockets football fan, and he’s got the man cave in University Hall to prove it.The college computing administrator who provides technology support for University Hall and surrounding buildings created a special space to showcase his Rocket pride.
Inside is an extensive collection of UT mini football helmets, a stuffed Rocky, the 2013 Rockets football schedule poster and other UT posters, a UT flag, a framed jersey with legendary quarterback Chuck Ealey’s No. 16, a framed news story from UT’s 2008 victory over Michigan, and a custom Toledo jacket Muniz had manufactured while he was in South Korea more than 20 years ago.
His sports memorabilia includes more than 250 autographed college and professional mini football helmets.
Muniz, who was born in Toledo and raised in rural northwest Ohio, was always a fan of UT football despite not always living in the area.
“I’ve always been a Rockets fan,” he said. “During football season, while most other people were big fans cheering for Ohio State, Michigan, UCLA, USC, I would be doing the same thing with Toledo.”
Often times, Muniz would get strange looks from his counterparts in the military because many of them did not follow or had never heard of the Mid-American Conference. This was especially true while he was stationed at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas.
His favorite moment as a Rocket fan? When UT played Penn State and he was able to watch the Rockets game despite being stationed far from the Glass City.
“It was 2000 when Toledo took on Penn State and Head Coach Joe Paterno was on his way to becoming the winningest coach in Division I football,” Muniz said. “What I didn’t expect was for the Rockets to totally dominate the game.”
The Rockets beat the Nittany Lions, 24-6, in State College, Pa.
Muniz enjoys showing off his mini helmet collection in his office and talking about them with different people who stop by.
In addition to his UT collection, Muniz also has multiple helmets from Bowling Green State University, the University of Massachusetts, Virginia Tech and Marshall University, where he was employed before coming to UT.
Also included with the college and National Football League helmets, Muniz has helmets from the Arena Football League, Canadian Football League and several now-defunct leagues.
“My most prized helmet has to be a Notre Dame one signed by none other than legendary former coach Ara Parseghian,” Muniz said.