Over the summer, we here at Cincy Jungle took it upon ourselves to do what the Bengals' franchise has failed to do during the past 46 years -- compile a true Ring of Honor to honor former Bengals. Leading up to the season, we presented 10 candidates for the first class of the Cincy Jungle Ring of Honor. Along the way, we made an effort to educate Bengals fans - young and old - on the great history of the franchise and the great players who have donned the stripes over the years.
As promised, now it is time for you, the fans, to vote for the first five players to be inducted into the Cincy Jungle Ring of Honor. Over the next eight weeks, we will be collecting votes to see who Bengals fans feel should be recognized.
Click here and select the five candidates you believe should be the first five to be inducted into the Cincy Jungle Ring of Honor. The five candidates with the most votes will be honored the week leading into the first round of the playoffs, as the Cincy Jungle Ring of Honor inaugural class.
10 candidates for Cincy Jungle's Bengals Ring of Honor Class of 2015:
It is Paul Brown who Bengals fans have to thank for their team in the first place and it is Paul Brown who Bengals fans have to thank for the team's glory days. Many modern Bengals fans do not realize that the Bengals were once a very successful franchise and that success was a direct result of Paul Brown. While Paul Brown's impact on the Bengals was immense, his impact on football as a whole is unparalleled and he is often considered the person responsible for the modernization of football and making the game the exact science it is today.
Michael Anthony Munoz was selected in the first round of the 1980 draft (3rd overall) by Forrest Gregg and the Cincinnati Bengals after an impressive, but injury-plagued college career at USC in which Munoz had three surgeries in four seasons and played just one full game his senior year. Because of the knee injuries, the pick was thought to be risky, but after 13 seasons, all in Cincinnati, Munoz is regarded by most as the best offensive lineman to ever step foot on a football field - and you won't find any argument in Cincinnati. Munoz is as beloved in the Queen City off the field as he was on it. Munoz was the anchor to both offensive lines that led the Bengals to their only two Super Bowl appearances in franchise history. Munoz is the only Bengals player enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After playing for a small private college (Augustana College), the Bengals took Anderson in the third round of the 1971 draft (67th overall). He became the Bengals' starting quarterback in 1972 and by the end of his 16 year career, Anderson had become the Bengals' leading passer in terms of yards, TDs and completions...and arguably the Bengals best quarterback ever. In 1981, following Anderson's MVP season, the Bengals made their first ever Super Bowl appearance and came just 5 points shy of knocking off a guy by the name of Joe Montana. A win, which in all likelihood, would have changed the legacy of not only Anderson, but Montana as well.
Do a Google search for "Ken Riley Hall of Fame" and you will come across a plethora of articles written in the last five years on how Ken Riley's omission from the Hall of Fame is one of the most glaring injustices in the history of the Hall of Fame. 19 defensive backs with fewer interceptions have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and 31 years after his retirement, Riley still ranks fifth on the all-time interceptions list with 65. The most amazing part about his 65 interceptions is that Riley never played cornerback until he showed up at Bengals training camp in 1969.
Replacing a great is one of the most difficult things to do in sports. Expectations are high, often unrealistic, and the margin for error (in the eye of the fans) is non-existent. Replacing "the guy that replaced the great" is one thing, but no one wants to be the guy saddled with the job of replacing the great. After being drafted in the second round of the 1984 draft, Boomer Esiason was not only tasked with replacing the best QB in Bengals franchise history, he was drafted with the expectations to unseat him.
As perplexing as it may be that Ken Riley and his 65 interceptions are not in the Hall of Fame, his partner for eight years - Lemar Parrish - is considered by many to have been even better than Riley. Drafted in the 7th round out of Lincoln University of Missouri, Parrish did not have the interceptions Riley had (25 with the Bengals; 47 career), but he had the Pro Bowls Riley never did. In his eight seasons with the Bengals, Parrish went to the Pro Bowl six times. In his 13 year overall career, Parrish visited the Pro Bowl eight times and his 47 career interceptions are still good for T-47th on the all-time list.
If today's NFL Draft rules were around in 1983, Tim Krumrie would have been an undrafted rookie free agent, trying out for a Bengals team coming off back-to-back division titles and two years removed from nearly dethroning Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVI. Making the team would have been a feat in and of itself. Krumrie didn't just make the team as a 10th round pick out of the University of Wisconsin, he became the best defensive lineman in franchise history and the franchise's all-time leader in tackles.
Many Bengals fans under the age of 40 are not aware of how good Isaac Curtis was. Curtis, a former running back and college track star with world class speed, did not move to receiver until his senior year in college, and while his franchise records for yards, receptions and touchdowns have since been passed by some other great Bengals receivers, there has not been a better receiver to call the banks of the Ohio home than Isaac Curtis.
No inaugural class candidate will receive as much debate among Bengals fans and non-Bengals fans as our ninth candidate, Chad Johnson (aka OchoCinco). Because of his on- and off-the-field antics - which many perceived as self-serving, distracting and cancerous to a team - you won't find many fans in the middle on Johnson. When it comes to Johnson, I believe he is a good person, a good teammate, one hell of a wide receiver and I believe his antics were all good natured.
Our final candidate for the Cincy Jungle Ring of Honor inaugural class, makes the cut as much for his off-the-field contributions as his on-the-field contributions. Recruited to the University of Florida as a quarterback, Anthony Cris Collinsworth converted to be a receiver his sophomore year and was an All-SEC selection every year, including a First Team All-American as a senior in 1980. In need of weapons for Ken Anderson, the Bengals selected Collinsworth in the second round of the 1981 draft and his speed and 6'5" frame immediately created mismatches against smaller defensive backs. As a rookie, he stepped in and contributed immediately, leading the team in yards (1,009) and touchdowns (8) and ranked second on the team in receptions (67). 1981 would become the first of three consecutive Pro Bowls for Collinsworth and the first Super Bowl season in the history of the relatively young Bengals franchise.