Before the 1990s, the Bengals unquestionably had high quality quarterback play in their first two decades of existence, and their talent translated to early team success.
The combination of Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason lead the Bengals to a 133-116 record, five playoff seasons and two Super Bowl appearances. Esiason took the torch from Anderson in 1985, and his respect for his mentor endures to this day.
Upon stepping down from being in the radio booth for Monday Night Football on ESPN, Esiason spoke with Bengals.com on the discussion surrounding Terrell Owens’ plans to skip his induction into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
The former MVP turned analyst does not approve of Owens’ decision- calling it “a disgrace”, and name-dropped Anderson as someone who he believes Owens is representing in his form of protest for players who’ve had to wait too long for their golden jacket.
“If you think T.O. is mad, can you imagine if Kenny were T.O.?” Esiason says. “Holy crap. I can’t even imagine what would happen.”
Esiason clarified he realizes why Owens is going forth with his actions, and knows that his relationship with the media, and there forth voters was the reason why Owens wasn’t a first-ballot inductee like he deserved to be.
For Anderson, it’s just the era differential that diminishes his production and case to join quarterbacks that have played after him.
“The problem is the game has changed so much in the last 15 years most of us who played it have become pretty much irrelevant when it comes to the record books and everything else. It’s unfortunate because any quarterback that completes 70 percent of his passes for as many as he threw has got to be one of the greatest single seasons a quarterback ever had.”
The season Esiason is referring to is Anderson’s 1982 campaign where he completed a league leading 70.6% of his passes while throwing 8.1 yards per attempt. It was the first time in the post-merger era a quarterback finished a season with a completion percentage over 70%.
From 1970 to 1989, for quarterbacks with over 100 starts, he’s 5th in completion percentage behind Joe Montana, Ken Stabler, Fran Tarkenton and Dan Marino. He’s also 5th in passer rating behind Montana, Marino, Roger Staubach and Neil Lomax.
In addition, he only trails Dan Fouts in passing yards in that timeframe. All of those names except Lomax are hall of famers, yet Anderson’s resume has fallen short to the voters over nearly 30 years.
“He was like Joe Montana before Joe Montana,” Esiason went on. “Smooth. Very calculating. A very precise quarterback just like Joe was. In my eyes when I was there he was a refined professional.”
Had Anderson and the Bengals came out victorious in the 1982 Super Bowl over Montana’s 49ers, this article probably wouldn’t exist at this time. Rings have become the overwhelming factor in who gets into the hall over others, and despite an impressive resume, Anderson’s going to need more support from just his former teammate and protege if he hopes to be a senior finalist anytime soon.