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Willie Anderson named as a first-year candidate for Pro Football 2014 Hall of Fame Class

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Former Bengals great Willie Anderson is receiving the recognition he deserves as a Hall of Fame candidate for the 2014 class.

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

It wasn't until late in his career that former Bengals offensive Willie Anderson began receiving the recognition that he deserved. As the team emerged from the forgotten 90s with Marvin Lewis at the helm, the team improved. Not only the product on the field but their image as well. And Anderson finally benefited.

Along with being a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro player ('04, '05, '06), Anderson is one of 16 "first-year eligible modern-era candidates nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014". Joining Anderson is former Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison, and Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks.

A former first-round pick (No. 10 overall) during the 1996 NFL draft, Anderson quickly developed into one of the league's premiere tackles. Anchored at right tackle during Corey Dillon's record-breaking performances (246 in 1997 and 278 in 2000), Anderson was a pros pro, deeply respected in the locker room and established in the NFL.

Anderson is one of only two players in Bengals history to earn First-Team All-Pro awards three times or more -- and that "other" player was Hall of Fame offensive tackle Anthony Munoz.

While we'd rather not prognosticate on his chances (it'll be tough his first year), it's a great day for fans of Anderson -- one of the few great players during the organization's worst eras.

First-year eligible

Trent Green, Quarterback
Shaun Alexander, Running Back
Warrick Dunn, Running Back
Marvin Harrison, Wide Receiver
Willie Anderson, Offensive Tackle
Walter Jones, Offensive Tackle
Derrick Brooks, Linebacker
Tedy Bruschi, Linebacker
Willie McGinest, Linebacker, DE
Zach Thomas, Linebacker
Rodney Harrison, Safety
Sam Madison, Cornerback
Patrick Surtain, Cornerback

Coaches

Tony Dungy
Jon Gruden
Mike Holmgren

Additional Nominees:

Quarterbacks

Drew Bledsoe
Randall Cunningham
Doug Flutie
Steve McNair
Phil Simms

Running Backs

Ottis Anderson
Tiki Barber
*Jerome Bettis
Larry Centers
Roger Craig
Stephen Davis
Terrell Davis
Eddie George
Priest Holmes
Dave Meggett
Eric Metcalf
Herschel Walker
Ricky Watters

Wide Receivers

*Tim Brown
Mark Clayton
Gary Clark
Henry Ellard
Keyshawn Johnson
Keenan McCardell
*Andre Reed
Sterling Sharpe
Jimmy Smith
Rod Smith

Tight End

Mark Bavaro

Offensive Linemen

Tony Boselli (T)
Lomas Brown (T)
Jim Covert (T)
Jay Hilgenberg (C)
Chris Hinton (G/T)
Kent Hull (C)
Joe Jacoby (T)
Mike Kenn (T)
Jim Lachey (T)
Tom Nalen (C)
Nate Newton (G)
Don Mosebar (C)
*Will Shields (G)
Steve Wisniewski (G)

Defensive Linemen

Jerome Brown (DT)
*Charles Haley (DE/LB)
Ed "Too Tall" Jones (DE)
Dexter Manley (DE)
Charles Mann (DE)
Steve McMichael (DT/NT)
Fred Smerlas (NT)
*Michael Strahan (DE)
Ted Washington (DT/NT)
Bryant Young (DE)

Linebackers

Cornelius Bennett
*Kevin Greene
Ken Harvey
Clay Matthews
Karl Mecklenburg
Sam Mills
Darryl Talley

Defensive Backs

Eric Allen (CB)
Steve Atwater (S)
Joey Browner (S)
LeRoy Butler (S)
Albert Lewis (CB)
John Lynch (S)
Troy Vincent (S)
Everson Walls (CB)
*Aeneas Williams (CB/S)
Darren Woodson (S)

Kickers/Punter/Special Teams

Morten Andersen (K)
Gary Anderson (K)
Sean Landeta (P)
Nick Lowery (K)
Steve Tasker (ST)
Brian Mitchell (KR, PR)

Coaches

Bill Arnsparger
Don Coryell
Bill Cowher
Tom Flores
Jimmy Johnson
Chuck Knox
Buddy Parker
Richie Petitbon
Dan Reeves
Lou Saban
Marty Schottenheimer
Clark Shaughnessy
Dick Vermeil

Contributors

K. S. (Bud) Adams Jr.
Bobby Beathard
Gil Brandt
Leo Carlin
Red Cashion
Otho Davis
*Eddie DeBartolo Jr.
Ron Gibbs
Jack Kent Cooke
Jerry Jones
Eddie Kotal
Robert Kraft
Elmer Layden
Art McNally
*Art Modell
Bill Polian
Steve Sabol
Paul Tagliabue
Jim Tunney
Ron Wolf
George Young

*On 2013 finalists list