Willie Anderson is one of the best players to ever wear Bengals stripes.
Unfortunately for him, most of his career came during one of the darkest times in the franchise's history. After being drafted out of Auburn in the first round of the 1996 draft, Anderson's Bengals went 34-78 over his first seven NFL seasons. The next five years were better, as Cincinnati went 42-38 before Anderson played his final year in the NFL for Baltimore prior to retiring in 2008.
Along with being a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro player ('04, '05, '06), Anderson was one of 16 former players nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014. However, Anderson missed the semifinalist cut. He was nominated again in 2014, but missed the cut again, leaving doubt as to whether he'll ever make the HOF.
Marvin Lewis got to coach Anderson during the latter part of his career, but still got to see Willy in his prime as he helped the Bengals become a respectable franchise again. Lewis thinks Anderson was the kind of player who deserves an induction:
"As we know, the key thing for a Hall-of- Fame type player is win championships," Lewis said via Bengals.com. "And unfortunately for Willie we didn’t win a championship here and he didn’t win one the year he spent in Baltimore," Lewis says. "As far as a player and what he did, he played to a very, very high level. In my estimation he’s (Hall-of-Fame caliber), but I’m not the judge."