Most NFL teams can think back on their "glory days". Some teams will probably look back on today when they reminisce on the good old day and some teams haven't had anything to reminisce about yet. When somebody talks about the Bengals, usually, they're talking about the 80's. The Bengals went to two Super Bowls in the decade that brought us Michael Jackson, Air Supply and jumpsuits. While the music and fashion may have been... well, bad... just really really bad, the Bengals weren't. People my age remember Super Bowl XXIII when Boomer and the boys fell to the 49ers, I remember everything about that game and the season leading up to it. Unfortunately, I was still just a twinkle in my fathers eye when Ken Anderson led the Bengals to Super Bowl XVI. Obviously I don't remember the game but Ken Anderson does.
"That’s what every player dreams of is getting a chance to play in the game and hopefully winning it, but we didn’t," he said. "It was such a magical season for us and the 49ers. The year before we are both 6-10 and the next season we are somehow 12-4 and going to the Super Bowl."
These days Anderson works with Archie Manning where he serves as a counselor for the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State University.
"We shared stories about different games, different golf tournaments and different characters that we’ve run into," said Anderson, who recently retired as the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback coach. "It’s been fun sharing some stories with Archie."
Anderson had an impressive 16-year career as a quarterback in the NFL. He was a four time Pro Bowl selection, accrued just under 33,000 passing yards and 197 touch downs and he led the league in passing in 1974 and 1975. He held the record for the highest completion percentage over a season with 70.3 percent until Drew Brees broke his record this season with a 70.62 percent completion percentage.
"I just wish (New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees) would have played the last game," the former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback jokingly said. Brees sat out the game because the Saints had already clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
After he retired from the NFL, Anderson had a short stint on sports radio before rejoining the Bengals as a coach. He also coached for the Jaguars and finally landed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007 where he won his Super Bowl ring. He just wishes the "gaudy" ring on his finger came from a game he played in instead of coached.
"There’s nothing that can replace the feeling of playing in a Super Bowl," he said. "Sometimes as a coach, you can feel helpless because you have no control of what they actually do on the field. It was nice getting a chance to play in it."
Anderson thinks that the position of quarterback has changed over the years to become much more dificult than it was when he was on the field. He says that there are different offensive schemes and defenses have made things more complicated for todays quarterbacks. I think anybody who watches a 1980's football game and then watches a game from today would agree. Not only are the players stronger and faster, the plays and formations have become much more complicated. However, without guys like Ken Anderson, we would never be where we are today.
Maybe in 20 years, people will look back on this decade as the new glory days of the Cincinnati Bengals.