02/05/2012 09:09 am ET Updated Feb 05, 2012

Latino NFL Greats And Super Bowl Stars (PHOTOS)

With all the attention that New York Giants' emerging star receiver, Victor Cruz, is receiving these days -- both for being a local New Jersey boy 'done good', and for his effusive salsa dancing in the end zone -- people may forget that the NFL has been home to many great Latino players, including a good number of Hall of Famers and a couple of Super Bowl stars.

For starters, this weekend's super match pits two boricuas, Cruz with the NY Giants, and his New England Patriots' counterpart, tight end Aaron Hernández. Either could be breakout stars and be key to their team's victory.

Going as far back as 1935, when Aldo Richins, of Mexico, played in the NFL Championship with the Detroit Lions, the top levels of football competition have included Hispanics. Fellow Mexican-born Tom Fears, a member of both, the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame, played in the 1951 NFL Championship, further cementing the burgeoning fandom for NFL football with our neighbors to the south.

During the 1970's and 1980's, perhaps the heyday of classic rough and tumble football, Ted Hendricks, of Guatemala, was affirming his place as one of the greatest linebackers to ever play. He starred in four Super Bows -- one with the Baltimore Colts, and three with the Raiders -- also being inducted into the College and NFL Halls of Fame after retiring in 1983.

More recently, stars like Max Montoya and Anthony Muñoz -- both playing with the Cincinnati Bengals -- established Latinos as great linemen. Since 2000, Latinos have also stepped up on the offensive side of things, with quartebacks Jeff Garcia (San Francisco 49ers and four other teams to date) and Mark Sanchez (New York Jets), and receivers like Cruz and Hernandez, showing that just as in every other facet of American life, no football team is truly complete without some Latino talent and energy.