Ken Anderson may be content with his plight, but the rest of us certainly are not.
“I don’t think twice about it, to be honest with you,” Anderson told Sporting News back in 2020, “except those times of year when it comes time for the election and somebody will call and say, ‘What do you think?’ Other than that, it doesn’t cross my mind.”
If you are a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, it crosses your mind. A lot.
Anderson was one of the best quarterbacks of his era, and about the only thing that is missing from his resume is a Super Bowl title. He led the NFL in passer rating four times, completion percentage three times, and passing yards, yards per attempt, and completions twice each.
In 1981, Anderson earned league MVP, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors after leading the Bengals to their first-ever Super Bowl berth. He is a four-time Pro Bowler, a First-Team All-Pro, and a two-time Second-team All-Pro. Anderson threw for 197 touchdowns vs. 160 interceptions, and still owns the franchise record for most passing yards with 32,838.
As if that were not enough, Kevin Cole, a former data scientist at Pro Football Focus and currently the director of data and analytics at Roto Grinders, recently named Anderson as the highest-rated quarterback not in the Hall of Fame. According to Cole, Anderson was among the top-12 most efficient passers in 11 of his 13 seasons as a starter.
And he only got better with age. After winning league MVP honors in his 10th season in 1981, Anderson won the passing efficiency title the following year with a 95.3 rating on the strength of a then league-record 70.6% completion rate and was widely considered as the second-best quarterback in the NFL, behind only Dan Fouts.
In 1983, Anderson once again led the league in efficiency with a 66.7% completion rate and in 1984, his final year as a full-time starter, finished among the top 10 passers in the league.
According to Football Outsiders, during those final two years, Anderson was better on a play-by-play basis than Hall-of-Famers Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Archie Manning, and Ken Stabler.
So yes, Ken Anderson fully deserves to be the Bengals’ third representative in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and maybe this is the year. But, whether he makes it or not, Anderson is satisfied.
“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,” he said. “My dream was fulfilled when I got a chance to play professional football for 16 years.”