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Football Outsiders Makes An Argument For Ken Anderson's Exclusion From The Hall Of Fame

Most Bengals fans believe Kenny Anderson is a Hall of Fame quarterback, perhaps one of the best in his day. A four-time Pro Bowler, Anderson led the league in passing twice, won the league MVP, AP Offensive Player of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year in 1981. Anderson is one of five quarterbacks to post the best passer rating in a given year four times (or more); the others are Hall of Famers. But doesn't subjective bias remove us from the argument that Anderson should be a Hall of Famer? Well, Cold Hard Football Facts calls Anderson's omission an injustice, making a rousing argument.

Anderson is eligible to be enshrined through the Senior Committee in 2012. Peter King believes arguments for Anderson warrant attention, though no Super Bowl wins will hurt him.

Football Outsider's Mike Tainer doesn't see it.

Analysts knew that Anderson was among the best quarterbacks in football in 1974 and 1975; I found a Sports Illustrated article calling him the best quarterback in football before the 1976 season, noting that the "computers" gave him a 93.5 rating. Anderson was making coffee commercials in 1982. He wasn't some unnoticed player rediscovered later by statisticians. He isn't being kept out of the Hall because voters disrespect or misunderstand stats. He is missing the whole middle of his career. That is why he is not in Canton.

As much as it hurts admitting this, Tainer has a point. During a five-year period from 1976 through 1980, Anderson suffered injuries, as well as a serious turnover in personnel -- a lot of them from the original Bengals squads in the late 60s -- that didn't leave Anderson with the best of options.

Anderson from 1976-1980
Record CMP ATT CMP% YRDS TDs INTs Rating
30-36 873 1,594 54.8% 10,849 62 70 70.7

Anderson, who posted 20 touchdowns or more in only two seasons, will have his candidacy depend on four seasons from 1974-5 and 1981-2. Those are the seasons he dominated the league with the best passer rating, completion percentages, yardage. Outside of that and no Super Bowl, Anderson's candidacy could take a fatal hit.