Quarterback: Ken Anderson's tenure in Cincinnati surpasses legendary status in relation to this franchise. An argument is still being waged regarding his Hall of Fame candidacy for his role as a stepping stone towards developing the west coast quarterback. An act that proceeded and eventually immortalized Joe Montana with Bill Walsh's refined system. Boomer Esiason is a complicating choice, but the only people making serious arguments for Hall of Fame inclusion are Bengals fans. Anderson was part of a significant philosophical shift that increasingly accepted the passing game more comfortably.
Running Back: No man did more with less, playing on some of the worst Bengals squads in franchise history, than Corey Dillon. Yet Dillon still set a league rookie record with 246 yards rushing over the Tennessee Oilers in 1997. Three years later Dillon set the league's single-game record for most yards rushing (278), breaking a 23 year-old record held by Walter Payton. He holds the team's all-time rushing record (8,061 yards rushing), the top three-best games in team history and most 100-yard rushing games (28) in franchise history. Unlike names like James Brooks, Bobbie Clark, Essex Johnson, and Pete Johnson, Dillon did it on his own... against eight-man fronts.
As a sidenote, let's be fair. Dillion didn't do it so much "on his own". Saying that would be a disserve to Rich Braham, Mike Goff, Willie Anderson, Matt O'Dwyer, all decent run blockers during Dillion's run (you don't set franchise rushing records without offensive line help).
Wide Receiver: One could argue Charlie Joiner after playing four seasons with the Bengals that led a Hall of Fame career in San Diego. We could go older school with Isaac Curtis, who ranks No. 2 in franchise history with 7,101 yards receiving and four Pro Bowl entries. The original "85". What about the other "85", who virtually holds every major receiving record in team history. Here's just a few of the accolades of Chad Johnson, with his six Pro Bowl and two First-Team All-Pro awards:
- Most yards receiving in a career (10,783)
- Most receiving touchdowns in a career (66)
- Most receptions in a career (751)
- Most yards receiving in a season (1,440) -- NOTE: Chad holds the top FIVE single-season records.
- Most yards receiving in a game (260)
- Most receiving touchdowns in a game (3) -- NOTE: Held by multiple players, most recently Chad.
- Most 100-yard receiving games in a career (31)
Cincinnati has had their share of great receivers, including T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Carl Pickens, Cris Collinsworth, Eddie Brown, Tim Brown, etc.. But we're going with the 85s.
Tight End: Dan Ross was one of those little known greats buried in Bengals history. Selected at No. 30 in the second round of the 1979 NFL draft, Ross would generate a record 11 receptions, 104 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a game that nearly featured one of the greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history. Ross was named to the 1982 Pro Bowl team while earning two All-Pro selections.
But how could anyone forget Bob Trumpy, a four-time Pro Bowler that earned a First-Team All-Pro selection. After a ten-year career with the Bengals, generating 4,600 yards receiving and 35 touchdowns, Trumpy set forth with an equally impressive (if not more) second career in radio. Along with hosting a weeknight show on 700-WLW (that would become Sports Talk) for ten years, Trumpy called games throughout the 80s for NBC where he called Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII.
Not bad for a 12th round (301st overall) draft pick during the 1968 NFL draft.
Offensive Line: Richie Braham and Willie Anderson hold a candle to my memories compared to others; despite the former not winning many accolades for being the blue collar of blue collar workers. Andrew Whitworth isn't there and unless he recovers after two declining seasons, he won't be. Sadly I remember less of Anthony Munoz, who entered the league when I turned two years old. Max Montoya and his four Pro Bowl selections equally so. There is no memories for me with Bob Johnson nor Dave Lapham, both of whom retired before my fifth name day.
Name your all-time Bengals offense.