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Willie Anderson: Certain Hall of Famer with today's defense

Former Bengals offensive tackle, one of a handful of first-time candidates on this year's hall of fame ballot, believes that with his offense and today's defense, he'd be a certain hall of famer. It certainly would have been epic.

Offensive tackle Willie Anderson marks the best chance that Cincinnati has having their second player enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yes, other players that spent time in Cincinnati have also made the Hall but were identified with other teams (aka, Charlie Joiner). But it's Anderson that would be enshrined with those beautiful bright orange stripes.

Others remain with eligibility. Former Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson, and cornerbacks Lamer Parrish and Ken Riley are on the ballot, but they've fallen into that Hall of Fame pit where older players generally receive less attention compared to the fanatical focus on players with recent eligibility. Maybe it's the explosive nature between eras, where today's game looks nothing like the game in the 70s.

In our view, Willie Anderson was (and still is) the greatest right tackle in Cincinnati. A clubhouse leader with an obvious impact during Corey Dillon's golden runs or the excellent protection schemes towards the end of his career, Anderson believes that with the defense that Cincinnati has today, he would be a shoe-in for next year's Hall of Fame class.

"I was telling one of my boys yesterday, if we had this defense in '05 or '06, there's no question I'd be going to the Hall of Fame," Anderson said via "Those guys are like a high school or college all-star team. I mean, they've got six guys that can get six sacks. No disrespect to the guys I played with, but how great would it have been to play with guys like Geno (Atkins) and Carlos (Dunlap)?"

Realistically, with today's defense and the offense during Anderson's tenure, we're talking Super Bowls... several. From '04-'07, the Bengals ranked in the top-11 in scoring offense -- including the fourth-ranked scoring offense in '05. With Carson Palmer at the helm, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh at receiver, Rudi Johnson in the backfield, and the offensive line that they had, that offense was the best offense that Cincinnati produced since the Boomer Esiason era in the late 80s.

Unfortunately the defense was more opportunistic than shutdown. If they failed to generate turnovers (they had a great many of them), they struggled to contain the opposing offense. Today the situation is reversed; though today's offense is comparatively better than the defense during Anderson's tenure where he concluded his career with four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro squads.