If Bengals legendary quarterback Ken Anderson couldn’t get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, when 10 senior candidates were inducted, he may never get in. At least until much more time has passed, that is.
Every year we have this discussion regarding Anderson, and every year, Anderson gets asked about it. But to this day, it doesn’t bother him.
“I don’t think twice about it, to be honest with you, except those times of year when it comes time for the election and somebody will call and say, ‘What do you think?’” Anderson told Sporting News in an exclusive interview. “Other than that, it doesn’t cross my mind.
“I guess the only time I was disappointed was the first time I was eligible, and I got into the final 15 and didn’t make it, and then it was disappointing. After that, I guess when you come from my background and grow up in a small town and go to a small high school and then go to a small college, you never dream about those things. My dream was fulfilled when I got a chance to play professional football for 16 years.”
The longer players have to wait, the harder it is for them to get in. Since Anderson got close in his first year and never closer than that, that level of disappointment being the highest makes sense. That Anderson’s football life was so extraordinary from his upbringing to eventual stardom should only strength his resume for induction.
Anderson’s exclusion from the Hall of Fame bewilders many analysts to this day, but Anderson has his own idea of why.
“Maybe it’s because of what happened lately with the franchise. It doesn’t get a lot of respect,” Anderson said. “But you go back to the 70s and 80s, and I think we were as good as anybody in the league. Unfortunately, the Steelers with one of the great teams of all time happened to be in our division. And we ran into the San Francisco 49ers a couple times in the Super Bowl, with one of the great dynasties of all time.”
The facts remain the same after decades of waiting. Though he and the Cincinnati Bengals never won a Super Bowl, Anderson was one of the most proficient passers of his generation and efficiently produced at the quarterback position at a level that had never been seen before. That’s the description of a transcendent player, and transcendent players usually end up in the Hall of Fame.
Sooner or later, Anderson’s name will be called...right?