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Franchise 4: The Four Best Cincinnati Bengals of All-Time

June 19, 2015 • Ben Heck • AFC, AFC North, Cincinnati Bengals, Franchise 4, History, Lists

Day five of our “Franchise 4” series features the Cincinnati Bengals out of the AFC North. Here are four of the most recognizable/accomplished figures in the Bengals’ 45+ year history:

Ken Anderson, QB (1971-86)

Anderson is a borderline Hall of Fame quarterback, and was a HOF finalist two different years back in the 1990s. The four-time Pro Bowl QB spent his entire 16-year career with the Bengals, leading the franchise to a Super Bowl appearance, only to fall to the legendary Joe Montana and his Niners in 1981. Anderson accumulated an 91-81 regular season record (plus a 2-4 postseason record) as Cincy’s starter, with nearly 33,000 passing yards and 197 touchdowns. In Cincinnati’s five-point Super Bowl loss to San Fran, Anderson tossed for 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns (also two picks), and he is currently seventh on the list for career postseason passer rating, at 93.5 in six games. He still holds the franchise records for attempts, completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns and interceptions.

Paul Brown, Founder/Head Coach (1968-75)

Paul Brown, whom the team’s stadium is currently named after, founded the Bengals in 1968, just a few years before the AFL/NFL merger. Brown served as the team’s head coach from 1968-75. In his eight seasons as coach (also the first eight seasons of the franchise’s existence) he accumulated a 55-56-1 record with three postseason appearances. Not exactly the best head coaching record, I know, but as the founding father of the Bengals (and the Cleveland Browns’ first head coach in history, and also their namesake), it’s tough to leave him off this list. He was the first head coach to use film to scout players and hire a full-time team of assistant coaches. Overall throughout his NFL head coaching career, Brown accumulated a 170-108-6 record (including playoffs) and was a three-time NFL champion.

Chad Johnson, WR (2001-2010)

Chad, A.K.A. Ochocinco, was one of the biggest trash-talkers of his era alongside future Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens. But there’s no questioning his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. Johnson was selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft, and he spent 10 of his 11 NFL seasons in Cincy. The six-time Pro Bowl receiver still holds the franchise records in receptions (751), receiving yards (10,783) and touchdown catches (66; three ahead of Carl Pickens). He recorded six straight 1,100 yard seasons from ’02-’07 and missed just two starts during that six-year span.

Anthony Munoz, OT (1980-92)

Munoz ranks as one of the all-time best blindside protectors in league history. The 6’6″/280-pound left tackle anchored Cincinnati’s offensive line throughout the 1980s, and he was elected to 11 Pro Bowls in his 13 seasons. Munoz was a member of both of Cincinnati’s Super Bowl teams (both ended with losses to the 49ers), one while protecting Anderson and the other while protecting Boomer Esiason. The Bengals lost those games by a combined nine points (26-21; 20-16). Even winning just one of those games would have been the icing on top of the cake of a picture-perfect legendary career for one of the best offensive lineman we’ve seen play this game.

There are plenty of other guys who could be argued for these four spots. In fact, you could make a strong case for Boomer Esiason, Carson Palmer, Marvin Lewis, James Brooks, Takeo Spikes, Willie Anderson, Ken Riley, Corey Dillon and etc. etc. Do you agree with our selections, or disagree? Let us know in the comment section below!

Photo: NFL.com

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