In the NFL, speed kills. That motto held sway 50 years ago every bit as much as it does today. But speed without power up front can only take a team so far. We recognize both the power and the speed have help make the Bengals great in this edition of our Top 50 Bengals of all-time ranking.
So far, we’ve made it through the players ranked between 50 and 26.
Next up on the list are the players ranked between 25-21, which includes one player still active in the NFL today, one player who’s active as a broadcaster in the NFL and three other historic figures in the Bengals’ history.
25. Andrew Whitworth, Left tackle
Whitworth was selected by the Bengals in the second round with the 55th overall selection in the 2006 NFL Draft. He made his NFL debut on special teams in Week 1 and started at left guard in his second game. He was in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season, in part due to the number of injuries that depleted the Bengals' offensive line.
In 2009, head coach Marvin Lewis decided to move Whitworth from guard to left tackle and he made an immediate impact, which would be long-lasting for the team. Whitworth started all 16 games and allowed just five sacks in his first season at left tackle. He also helped running back Cedric Benson have a breakout year rushing with 1,251 yards. On December 12, 2010 Whitworth caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer against the Steelers, becoming the first Bengals offensive lineman to catch a touchdown pass since 1995.
In January 2013, for the first time in his career, Whitworth was named a left tackle on the AFC Pro Bowl team.
During the 2014 season, Whitworth allowed zero sacks and only one hit on quarterback Andy Dalton and, even though he was snubbed out of a second Pro Bowl berth, was named second-team AP NFL All-Pro. Whitworth was ignored on the list of NFL Top 100 Players of 2015, but was voted as the 67th best player by his peers on the 2016 list. He has defied his age and has stood out as one of the best offensive linemen in the history of the team and one of the best-ever players to don Bengals stripes. Despite nearly everyone thinking Whitworth would return to the Bengals in 2017, the veteran tackle left the team this offseason to join the Los Angeles Rams, where he is now the oldest player on the team and even older than the head coach.
Despite leaving Cincinnati, he’ll forever be remembered for his amazing play at left tackle and 11 standout seasons in Cincinnati.
24. Lemar Parrish, Defensive back
After graduating from college, Parrish was selected by the Bengals in the seventh round of the 1970 NFL Draft. He made his presence felt immediately, not just as a defensive back but also as a kick returner on special teams.
In his rookie season, Parrish recorded five interceptions and one fumble recovery, tallied 194 yards returning punts and 482 yards returning kickoffs, and scored two touchdowns (one on a punt return and one on a kickoff return). His 482 kickoff return yards came on just 16 returns, an impressive 30.1 yards per return average.
In 1974, Parrish set a franchise record when he led the NFL with an 18.8-yards-per-punt return average (18 returns for 338 yards). In his eight seasons with the Bengals, Parrish was selected to the Pro Bowl six times (1970, 1971, 1974–1977).
But, after the 1977 season, Parrish got into a contract dispute with the Bengals, and was traded to the Redskins. Parrish left the Bengals as the team's all-time leader in touchdowns scored by "return or recovery" with 13 (four on punt returns, four on interception returns, three on fumble returns, one on a kickoff return, and one on a blocked field goal return). He was also the only player in franchise history ever to score two "return or recovery" touchdowns in a single game, a feat he accomplished three times.
Some of his best moments in stripes were a 1970 game against the Bills in which he scored touchdowns on a 95-yard kickoff return and an 83-yard blocked field goal return. In a 1972 game against the Houston Oilers, he scored touchdowns on interception returns of 25 and 33 yards. And in a 1974 game against Washington, he scored touchdowns on a 93-yard punt return and a 47-yard fumble return.
Parrish left as the Bengals' all-time leader in punt return yards with 1,201, and set the franchise record for punt return yards in a season with 338 in 1974.
23. Tony McGee, Tight end
McGee was selected by the Bengals with the 37th overall pick in the second round of the 1993 NFL Draft. As a rookie, McGee quickly became the Bengals' starting tight end and caught 44 passes for 525 yards.
He remained with the Bengals for nine years, starting all 16 games each year from 1994 to 1999. McGee had his best season in 1995 with 55 catches for 754 yards and four touchdowns. Between 1993 and 2001, McGee appeared in 136 games, 134 as a starter, and caught 299 passes for 3,795 yards and 20 touchdowns.
After nine seasons with the Bengals, McGee ranked seventh on the club's all-time career receptions list. He is among the top tight ends in Bengals history and heavily contributed to many (unfortunately) terrible Bengals teams.
22. Cris Collinsworth, Wide receiver
Collinsworth was drafted by Cincinnati in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft with the 37th overall pick and spent his entire eight-year NFL career with the Bengals. He surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1986 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1981, 1982 and 1983. At 6’5”, Collinsworth often created mismatches against much smaller cornerbacks. In addition to his height advantage, Collinsworth was a legitimate deep threat because of his speed.
In Super Bowl XVI, Collinsworth caught five passes for 107 yards, but committed a costly fumble when he was hit by San Francisco defensive back Eric Wright.
In 1985, Collinsworth signed with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League (USFL), but the contract was voided when he failed a physical due to a bad ankle. He returned to the Bengals and played for them until the end of the 1988 season and caught three passes for 40 yards in Super Bowl XXIII, the final game of his career. He finished his career with 417 receptions for 6,698 yards and 36 touchdowns in 107 games.
Collinsworth will go down in history as one of the team’s best-ever receivers and had the honor of playing in two Super Bowls. Now, he lives in Northern Kentucky and is the majority owner of Pro Football Focus, in addition to being a sportscaster for NBC (Sunday Night Football color commentator), Showtime (Inside the NFL), and the NFL Network.
21. Eddie Brown, Wide receiver
Brown was the second receiver selected in the 1985 NFL Draft (after Al Toon) and was the 13th pick overall by the Bengals, three picks ahead of Jerry Rice. In 1985, he became the only Bengals player ever to win the NFL Rookie of the Year Award (Paul Robinson won the award in the old AFL) with 53 receptions for 942 yards and eight touchdowns.
In 1988, Brown caught 53 passes for 1,273 yards and nine touchdowns, leading the high-powered Bengals offense to the 1988 AFC Championship and Super Bowl XXIII. The season earned Brown his only trip to the Pro Bowl. His 1,273 receiving yards was a franchise record at the time, and his 24 yards per catch average is an NFL single-season record that still stands for receivers with 50+ receptions.
Brown's team record for receiving yards was later surpassed by Chad Johnson, who had 1,355 yards in 2003, but it took Johnson 37 more receptions than Brown (90) to reach the mark. Brown also set the franchise record for most receiving yards in a single game (216) in the 1988 season, which stood until surpassed by Johnson's 260 yards in a game during the 2006 season.
Brown's final NFL season was in 1991. He finished his seven-year NFL career with 363 catches (seventh in Bengals history) for 6,134 yards (fifth) and 41 touchdowns (fourth), along with 164 rushing yards.