When it comes to chronicling the history of the Cincinnati Bengals, it remains both satisfying and frustrating. The lack of a Super Bowl victory always lingers in the background, even though there are many talented players in franchise history.
In coming up with the top 11 players in every teams’ history, NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman cracked open the encyclopedias, so to speak. While the names on this list are pretty much standard for any Bengals’ all-time “team”, there are a couple of players I’m not sure I’d agree with.
1) Anthony Muñoz, OT (1980-1992)
2) Ken Anderson, QB (1971-1986)
3) Ken Riley, DB (1969-1983)
4) Chad Johnson, WR (2001-2010)
5) Boomer Esiason, QB (1984-1992; 1997)
6) Tim Krumrie, DT (1983-1994)
7) A.J. Green, WR (2011-present)
8) Isaac Curtis, WR (1973-1984)
9) James Brooks, RB (1984-1991)
10) Corey Dillon, RB (1997-2003)
11) Reggie Williams, LB (1976-1989)
Coach: Paul Brown (1968-1990)
What first sticks out, even though the names are always brought up as the Bengals’ best, has to be the immense talent at the offensive skill positions. Anderson and Esiason are easily the team’s top-two signal-callers, while the trio of Johnson, Green and Curtis has to be up there as one of the best ever in the NFL.
Munoz, despite what some may deem as a biased opinion, is the best offensive tackle to ever play in the NFL and is a lock at the top of any Bengals’ all-time list. Dillon and Brooks don’t often get talked about, in terms of great running backs in the annals of the league for a variety of reasons, but both had stellar careers in their own right.
The lack of defensive players on Bergman’s list of Bengals is also interesting. Unlike the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, who have 11 players on Bergman’s list between the two squads, Cincinnati’s list of 11 is comprised only of three defensive players.
And, that’s where one of the major points of contention for most who follow the Bengals should stem. Since Bergman seems to be including current players like Green, how does Tim Krumrie make this all-time team over Geno Atkins.
Look, Krumrie was awesome and his toughness should never be questioned. He was a major cog in the machine that produced a Super Bowl XXIII appearance, but Atkins is well on his way to Canton, with his six Pro Bowl berths and two All-Pro designations.
The other major omission is offensive tackle Willie Anderson. Overshadowed by players who were on winning teams and/or played the all-important left tackle position, Anderson remains not only one of the best Bengals players ever, but one of the best to play his position in his generation.
While Bergman definitely knows his NFL history, we wonder just how much some national narratives came into play. Here is an excerpt of his synopsis regarding his 11 Bengals selections:
Having earned the reputation of postseason pumpkins, the Bengals best resemble the Dutch national team in their bridesmaid persona -- and their striking orange color scheme. For 50-plus years, the Bengals have roamed the banks of the Ohio River, and yet, they’ve produced zero Super Bowl titles and only one Hall of Famer: legendary tackle and NINE-TIME ALL-PRO Anthony Muñoz, who sits comfortably atop Cincy’s all-time XI.
Regardless, Bergman seems to largely have it right when it comes to this list. The contentions only really come with some recent players—particularly those uber-productive ones largely responsible for five straight postseason berths from 2011-2015.
What do you think of Bergman’s list of the top-11 Bengals of all-time?