The Cincinnati Bengals have been in a rough patch for some time now, but the one thing that consistently brings fans back is the players.
Only one player in franchise history has made the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and there is no official Ring of Honor associated with the Bengals. This has only made the legacies of the franchise’s players that much more valuable in the minds of its fanbase. If the NFL and the organization won’t celebrate the team’s history, who will instead?
Each decade of the team’s 53 years of history featured genuinely great players who spent the majority or all of their careers with the Bengals. Even in the 1990s, players like Darnay Scott and Carl Pickens represented the franchise proudly. And players like Scott and Pickens, who played the same position, made those teams even more fun to reminisce on.
To pass the time while the current Bengals are on a bye week, let’s reflect on the very best positional duos in Bengals’ history.
Cornerbacks Lemar Parrish & Ken Riley
Arguably the franchise’s two greatest defensive backs joined the team one year apart early after its inception. Riley was in his second year when Parrish made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season in 1970, and the two spent 13 years together leading the Bengals’ defensive backfield.
Parrish went onto make eight total Pro Bowls and was a one-time All-Pro like Riley, but Riley’s 65 career interceptions make up for his lack of career Pro Bowls and present as good of a Hall of Fame case as any. Riley is fifth on the all-time interceptions list, and Parrish’s 47 career interceptions isn’t too shabby in comparison. You just don’t see cornerback duos on this level anymore.
Offensive linemen Anthony Muñoz & Max Montoya
The greatest left tackle of all time wasn’t the only bright spot on the Bengals’ offensive line in the 1980s. Montoya has the third-most Pro Bowls for offensive linemen in franchise history and played 10 years with Muñoz, paving the way for running backs Pete Johnson and James Brooks.
The greatness of Muñoz needs no explanation. He was the blindside protector for two Super Bowl runs and for two of the greatest quarterbacks in franchise history. Cincinnati’s success from that entire decade can largely be attributed to Muñoz and that offensive line, and both Muñoz and Montoya made three Pro Bowls from 1986-1989.
Wide receivers Chad Johnson & T.J. Houshmandzadeh
The start of Carson Palmer’s career was so great in part because he had two receivers entering the prime of their careers. If Johnson was the Batman of the receiving corps, Houshmandzadeh was a damn good Robin. The two combined for 9,673 receiving yards from 2004-2007, with Ochocinco being the do-it-all X receiver and Housh being the crafty slot receiver.
Johnson has a decent case to potentially make the Hall of Fame with his six Pro Bowls and two All-Pro seasons. Houshmandzadeh may not have the career accolades to match Johnson’s, but his value in helping make the offense as complete as it was will always be revered.
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