|Before Akili Smith, there was Jack Thompson|
Between 1977 and 1978, Bengals quarterback Anderson posted 21 touchdowns, 33 interceptions, a completion rate of 53% and a winning percentage of 44% in 25 starts. Additionally, injuries took their toll. Anderson suffered from damaged knee ligaments in 1977, a broken throwing hand in 1978 during the preseason, a bruised back in 1979, along with a re-aggravated knee injury. Anderson dealt with a depleted receiving roster, save for Isaac Curtis, lost center Bob Johnson and tight end Bob Trumpy to retirement and listened to fans cheer when he was injured.
Even though Anderson was already a Pro Bowl quarterback, having started (and lost) two playoff games, Bengals founder Paul Brown was ready to move on.
With the third overall selection in 1979 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Washington State quarterback Jack Thompson.
Thompson, often cited by draft experts as a can't-miss quarterback before the draft, left Washington State as one of the most prolific passers in college history, posting 7,818 yards passing, setting numerous PAC-10 and NCAA records and earning three all-conference awards.
Paul Brown drafted the quarterback, anticipating that he'll replace Anderson within a few seasons. During his rookie season, Thompson completed only 44.8% of his 87 passes, posted only one touchdown and five interceptions. During the same year Anderson posted 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a passer rating of 80.7 -- which was higher than any of his three previous seasons.
Thompson's slow start and Anderson's slow rebound didn't prevent the young Washington State quarterback from having another chance his sophomore season in 1980. Thompson still completed less than half of his passes (49.1%), recording 11 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. Anderson's career took a step back, posting a 6-13 touchdown to interception ratio as the Bengals finished a frustrating 6-10.
It was 1981 in which quarterbacks would have their destinies defined. Yet it wasn't under after the season opener in which Anderson's career resumed course as being a Hall of Fame finalist in 1996 and 1998. After throwing three first half interceptions against the Seattle Seahawks, head coach Forrest Gregg pulled Anderson in favor of third string quarterback Turk Schonert -- not Thompson who was hurt at the time. Anderson, given a second chance the following week, began putting together the best season in his career. When it was over, Anderson completed 62.6% of his passes, recorded a career-high 29 touchdowns, only ten interceptions, a career-high 98.4 passer rating while leading the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
Thompson, on the other hand, would play sparingly that season, posting only one touchdown and two interceptions, completing 42.9% of his passes. Thompson's fourth and final year with the Bengals, in 1982, ended with only one game played and no passes attempted. He signed on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1983, playing through the 1984 season and retiring as an NFL quarterback.
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