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Bengals trade history: Lemar Parrish and Coy Bacon to the Redskins

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We're taking a look at a handful of trades in Cincinnati Bengals history. This one happened in 1978 when two of the team's legendary players requested, and were granted, a trade to the Washington Redskins.

Coy Bacon, signed by the St. Louis Rams in '68, played two seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, posting a franchise-best 22 quarterback sacks in '76... (unfortunately) five years prior to sacks becoming an official statistic in '82. During both of his seasons ('76 and '77) in Cincinnati, Bacon earned a spot at the NFL's Pro Bowl and all-Pro recognitions.

But he wasn't happy in Cincinnati. Along with denouncing the franchise, Bacon's dislike for the Bengals' conversion to a 3-4 defense led to him demanding a trade.

And he wasn't the only one.

Defensive back Lemar Parrish, a cornerback many view with more reverence than Ken Riley, also demanded a traded. Parrish was complaining, for several seasons, that he wasn't being fairly compensated while expressing disappointment that Paul Brown never complimented his players. Some quotes from Parrish in 1976.

"Paul never showed any affection for the guys," he added. "I don't care how good you are or how good you play, a guy likes to hear something from the coach."

"No cornerback in the league is better than I am, but a lot are getting paid better than I am."

"If they can't meet my salary standards, I got to move. I can't spend glory."

The Bengals traded Bacon and defensive back Lemar Parrish to Washington for the Redskins first round pick in 1979 before the start of the 1978 season.

Paul Brown said at the time that Bacon "became expendable" after the team drafted Notre Dame's Ross Browner as the eighth overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft. And Brown was right. Browner, the team's elected Most Valuable Player in 1978, set a Super Bowl record for most tackles by a defensive lineman in Super Bowl XVI, finishing with 59 quarterback sacks -- third in franchise history.

The Bacon/Parrish trade to Washington resulted in the Bengals selecting 12th overall pick in the 1979 NFL Draft. Louisiana State running back Charles Alexander became their choice. During seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Alexander posted 2,645 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns and a 3.5 yard/rush average. He never led the team in rushing.

The riddle of Ken Riley's absence in the Hall of Fame tends to baffle. How does someone with 65 career interceptions not become enshrined, honored and remembered in the halls of history outside of the Bengals community that bemoans the snub? The truth is, Riley, while great, wasn't even the best defensive back on the field... for a period of time. No. A more accurate description would be that Riley played alongside a great defensive back, a former seventh round draft pick during the '70 NFL Draft out of Lincoln named Lemar Parrish.

During their eight seasons together in Cincinnati, the duo of Riley and Parrish combined for 57 interceptions with six returned for touchdowns from 1970 through 1977.

The Riley/Parrish combination didn't last. Parrish began to demand a trade. On January 24, 1976, just before that season's Pro Bowl, Parrish was quoted as saying, "I just want out", renewing a hostility that existed between Parrish and former head coach Paul Brown.

Parrish said that under Paul Brown's regime, veterans "are treated like a kid out of college. Paul wants to play his starters down, he doesn't want to pay anything." Like father, like son, we suppose. Maybe the issue we've related to Mike Brown isn't so much an isolated personality -- rather coming directly from his father.

"Paul never showed any affection for the guys," he added. "I don't care how good you are or how good you play, a guy likes to hear something from the coach."

In an unrelated note, the players threatened to boycott the Pro Bowl that year because the game does not "provide customary help to the players' pension so long as the players' association does not have a signed contract with the NFL." I just shivered, recalling that nearly 40 years later, these issues remain.

Closer toward the '76 regular season, Parrish made it known that he wanted to join the Washington Redskins. In very Chad Ochocinco-like behavior, Parrish, through the newspaper, had a message for Redskins head coach George Allen.

"Tell George hello and I'll be seein' him soon. I'd like to go to Washington because of George Allen. I've always wanted to play for him."

With a contract set to expire after the '77 season, Parrish made it known that if the Bengals wanted to keep him, they'd have to pay him.

"No cornerback in the league is better than I am, but a lot are getting paid better than I am."

According to Parrish, if the Bengals didn't increase his yearly salary to the $100,000/year level, he would press harder for a trade.

"If they can't meet my salary standards, I got to move. I can't spend glory."

Fortunately, the conflict between the team and player has dissolved over time, rebounding the traditions of remembering great players in Cincinnati's history.

While Riley is often remembered for his interceptions, Parrish will be remembered as the better defensive back of this group. Or in his words, greatest playing at the time. During his eight seasons with the Bengals, Parrish was elected to the Pro Bowl during six seasons. While his 25 interceptions with the Bengals ranks fourth all-time, he holds franchise records with most interceptions in a game (3) and ranks second with four interception returns for a touchdown and most interceptions returned for a touchdown in a season. That came in the same game (December 17, 1972 at Houston), that gave him the record for most interceptions returned for a touchdown. His 354 career interception return yards rank third all-time.

Along with being one of the best defensive backs in the league, Parrish was perhaps the most gifted return man in franchise history. If you combine his kickoff returns, punt returns, interception and fumble returns, Parrish recorded 12 touchdowns for Cincinnati. Parrish led the NFL during three seasons with the most punt returns for touchdowns, twice led the NFL with most fumble returns for a touchdown and led the NFL in 1977 with most interception returns for a touchdown.

We're not finished.

Parrish's 24.7-yard average per kickoff return is a franchise best. As is his 18.8-yard punt return average in 1974 -- no one has come close to it. Parrish's four punt returns for touchdowns doubles any other player in franchise history and his two punt returns for touchdowns in 1974 has only been matched once (Craig Yeast in 1999). Before Carl Pickens' 95-yard punt return in 1992 against the Green Bay Packers, Parrish's 90-yard touchdown against the Washington Redskins on October 6, 1974 was the franchise's long punt return. He's also one of 10 players to record a touchdown return on kickoffs in a season (no player has scored two in a single season).

Additionally, his 130 punt returns rank second behind returner Mike Martin, as does his 1,201 punt return yards. Parrish's 338 punt return yards in '74 was a record at the time, until Mike Martin' 376 set the franchise record for most punt return yards in a season. Quan Cosby later blew that record out of the water, recording 474 yards on punt returns in '09, which was later broken by Brandon Tate with 543 yards in '11.

As for Bacon, who was a dominating force as a pass rusher, he would wind-down his career with 15 sacks in '79 and 11 in '80. Unfortunately, he never played in an era that recorded quarterback sacks as an official statistic.