Though they are one of a few NFL teams to have never won a Super Bowl, the Bengals still have a decorated history. Many talented players have come and gone, even during the team's version of The Great Depression, also known as the "lost decade" from 1992-2002.
Before the onset of 2015 Training Camp, we've decided to crack open the franchise's history books and attempt to create the ultimate team. It's likely that some snubs might cause a stir, but what else are opinions for? Let's start with a look at special teams.
One could argue special teams has been one of the best historical groups in Bengals history. Pretty solid kickers throughout eras, some exciting return men in even the worst of times and currently one of the better units in today's NFL.
Kickoff Specialist/Place Kicker, Jim Breech: The long time kicker made a whopping 225 kicks in his Bengals career. Though his 71.9% career percentage as a Bengals kicker isn't great, he is the all-time kicking leader in team history. The big notch in Breech's belt were his incredible 52 postseason points (25 extra points, nine made field goals).
Honorable Mention, Shayne Graham: It was a tough call to go with Breech over Graham, but there were two knocks on the kicker who was involved in the team's renaissance out of The Dark Ages. He had a solid 86.8% kicking percentage, which greatly outweighs Breech, but had a knack for missing big kicks. His seven postseason points were disappointing and he was often replaced on kickoffs by the punter for a stronger leg.
Punter, Lee Johnson: For 11 years, Johnson was the team's punter and did a great job for the Bengals. His 32,196 Bengals punting yards are more than most quarterbacks throw for in their career and he did so at a 43.2 yard-per-punt clip. Though he also publicly soured on the team's direction through the 1990s like other players, he was one of the only mainstays on a team that cycled through players in that decade.
Honorable Mention, Kevin Huber: Really, it's a longevity thing and Huber has a Pro Bowl to his name, which Johnson did not. If Huber stays with the Bengals for a few more effective years, he could easily supplant Johnson for this position.
Kickoff Returner, Tremain Mack: Though Mack's Cincinnati (and NFL career) were short-lived--four years, to be exact--he was incredibly effective in that short time. Mack is the all-time team leader in kick return yardage with 3,583 and that's really only in three years of return opportunities. He had two touchdowns on returns and was a consistent threat as evidenced by his 24.5-yard-per-return average and his 1999 Pro Bowl berth. If off-the-field issues hadn't derailed his career, he would have had an outstanding career as a returner.
Punt Returner, Lemar Parrish: Before there was Adam Jones or even Deion Sanders, there was Lemar Parrish. The outspoken cornerback had a knack for making big plays on defense and on special teams. While he had two kickoff return touchdowns of his own, Parrish was a monster on punt returns with four returns for touchdowns in his career. Keep in mind that this was his secondary job on the team, as he was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection as a defensive back (the return abilities obviously didn't hurt in that regard, either).
Punt/Kick Return Coverage Captains:
Cedric Peerman, Gunner: As a former coach myself, this is the type of player who you love to have on your team. Peerman does everything asked of him by the coaching staff, including the dirty work, and has been a special teams ace for five years. He has been a big reason that the team's current special teams unit is as strong as it is.
Vincent Rey, Special Teams Captain: Another guy who has proven valuable as a backup defensive player and special teams captain in the recent era has been Vinny Rey. A great guy off-the-field, Rey, like Peerman, has done everything the coaches have asked of him. Marvin Lewis values special teams performance, hence why both Peerman and Rey have been roster mainstays of late.
Quan Cosby, Jack of All Trades: Need a solid returner in a pinch? An outstanding blocker while others return big kicks? A guy who can play a little bit of slot receiver? Cosby is your guy. He had a short-lived Bengals career, but did everything one could one ask for of a special teamer.