The Bengals have only retired one number, #54. Bob Johnson, the Bengals first pick all-time, played 12 seasons and earned a Pro-Bowl bid during his rookie season (1968). Johnson, even with his number retired, isn't a hall of famer. In fact, the only Bengals player in the hall of fame is Anthony Munoz -- who doesn't have his jersey retired.
But it's likely you'll never see his number on the field again. The Bengals have "reserved", not retired, the jerseys of Boomer Esiason (7), Ken Riley (13), Ken Anderson (14), Tim Krumrie (69) and Anthony Munoz (78).
Ken Riley ranks fifth all-time with 65 career interceptions -- he's not in the hall. Looking at the all-time career interceptions list, only five of the 14 inside the top-ten are in the hall -- Paul Krause (85), Emlen Tunnell (79), Dick "Night Train" Lane (68), Ronnie Lott (63) and Mel Blount (57). I guess career interceptions isn't an impressive number. Riley had seven seasons with five interceptions or more. He finished his career with five defensive touchdowns. (Catching Up With Ken Riley)
What about Ken Anderson? Anderson finished his career with 32,838 yards passing, 217 touchdowns (197 passing, 20 rushing), 2,654 completions with an MVP in 1981. He's absent from the top-ten in all-time touchdowns, completions and yardage leaders. He only had two touchdown seasons with 20 touchdowns or more and 160 career interceptions. Alternatively, Anderson completed 70.55 percent of his passes in 1982 (a record), 90.91% of his passes in a single game (second all-time) and three seasons leading the league with the lowest interception percentage (against passes thrown). Anderson led the NFL, four times, with the best passer rating. Only Sammy Baugh and Steve Young led the league in passing more (six times each). He's among six players that have led the league in passing in consecutive seasons (2) and Steve Young is the only quarterback with more (4). Anderson finished his career with four Pro Bowls, lead the league in completions twice (1974, 1982) and passing yards twice (1974, 1975). He also lead the league in adjusted yards per pass in three (1974, 1975 and 1981).
If you believe that Anderson should be in the hall, then why not Boomer Esiason? His 247 touchdown passes ranks 14th all-time and his 37,920 yards passing ranks 12th. Like Anderson, Norman Julius Esiason earned four Pro Bowl trips with one MVP season (1988). In Boomer's one Super Bowl appearance, he completed 11 of 25 passes for 144 yards and one interception -- he didn't throw a touchdown.
The Denver Broncos have a unique honorary entity. The Ring of Fame is, basically, the team's personal Hall of Fame -- something the Bengals, and other teams, should consider implementing to honor the best through the years.