This will be the first in a series where we will cover every team in the NFL and break down their all-time roster. No current players will be considered for this list.
Ken Anderson- Let me start off by saying this, Ken Anderson belongs in the hall of fame! He led the Bengals to Super Bowl XVI on the way to that Super Bowl and he beat HOF member Dan Fouts 27-7 in the coldest game in NFL history with a wind chill of -59 Degrees. Anderson was a great bad-weather QB and one of the most accurate passers in NFL history.
Corey Dillon- Dillon rushed for over 1,000 yards in six straight seasons and was one of the few bright spots on a bad football team. He was known as malcontent, but it is hard to blame him because let’s face, it the Bengals were a mess back then.
James Brooks- Brooks was one of the most complete running backs you will ever see anywhere. He could run the ball, catch passes out of the backfield, and he was a tough blocker. What Brooks lacked in physical size he more than made up for it with the size of his heart.
Pete Johnson- Johnson was a big bruising back. Johnson ran for over 1,000 yards during the 1981 season, helping to lead the Bengals to their first-ever AFC Championship.
Dan Ross- Ross had a short career, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was the greatest Bengals tight end. He helped lead the Bengals to Super Bowl XVI, and once he got to the Super Bowl, he played maybe the greatest game of any Tight End in Super Bowl history. Ross was the epitome of a real Tight End who could do it all.
Isaac Curtis- Curtis quiet demeanor and act-like-you-have-been-there-before attitude led a lot of people to overlook him. Curtis was smooth and made playing wide receiver in the NFL look effortless.
Chad Johnson- Johnson’s last few years with the Bengals are years we all would just soon forget. His first eight years though he was a great wide receiver. In six of those eight seasons, he had over a thousand yards receiving.
Anthony Munoz- Simply put, Munoz was the greatest Left Tackle to ever play the game and more importantly one of the finest men to ever play the game.
Willie Anderson- Anderson is in my opinion, another former Bengal that deserves Hall of Fame consideration. Anderson was a dominant Right Tackle who has never been given the respect that is due to him. Anderson made four straight Pro Bowls for the Bengals from 2003-2006.
Max Montoya- Montoya was largely overshadowed by Anthony Munoz, but Montoya was a great player in his own right. Montoya was a four-time Pro Bowler; three of those while he was with the Bengals and he was the starting Guard on both Bengals Super Bowl teams.
Pat Matson- Matson is overlooked since he did not have the longest career, but his ability to pull and get to linebackers was amazing. His career was shortened by a multitude of injuries which is why he is not remembered for being a great player.
Rich Braham- Braham was a huge part of an offensive line that paved the way for Corey Dillon, who set (at the time) an NFL rookie rushing record of 246 yards against the Tennessee Oilers. In 2004 and 2005, Braham was later in his career the starting center when Rudi Johnson twice broke the franchise rushing record for a season while also limiting the number of sacks against Carson Palmer (19) in 2005 as the Bengals would make their first playoff appearance in 15 years.
Coy Bacon- Bacon was the victim of sacks not being kept during a lot of his career if official sack records were kept he would be a possible Hall of Famer.
Bacon’s 1976 season with Cincinnati that lies at the center of this story. Because in 1976, Coy Bacon was virtually unblockable.
“Couldn’t anybody stop me,” he told me a few years ago. I believe it was 2007 when he told me. “They just double-teamed me, because I had confidence one man couldn’t stop me on a pass rush. That was a good year.”
It was so good that, according to a lot of tallies, it has never been equaled. That year, according to the initial counts, Coy Bacon had an incredible 26 sacks. Unfortunately, because the NFL didn’t keep official sack totals until 1982, we will never know for sure.
Eddie Edwards- Edwards was another great player that was penalized by the NFL not “officially” counting sacks until 1982. Officially he had 47.5 sacks which was the Bengals record until Carlos Dunlap broke it. Unofficially he had 83.5 sacks which would make him still the Bengals career record holder.
Tim Krumrie- One of the fiercest men to ever wear a Bengals uniform, and up until a broken leg in Super Bowl XXIII Krumrie was the best Nose Tackle in the NFL. He made an amazing recovery from that broken leg, starting the season opener the very next year. He was still one of the best to play that position after the injury, but he was never able to fully get back to where he had been.
Mike Reid- Reid’s career was short, only five years. In those five years, he was chosen as all-pro multiple times and accounted for 49 sacks. Sacks were not official as we have discussed earlier in the article, but the Bengals did keep stats on sacks which is why I do give validity to their numbers. Reid retired at a young age to pursue a career in music.
Reggie Williams- Williams was the heart and soul of the Bengals defense for well over a decade. He was a leader on and off the field. Williams was named to the NFL all-rookie team and towards the end of his career was named the “Whizzer White” Man of the Year in 1986, Sports Illustrated Co-Sportsman of the year in 1987 and finally the Walter Payton Man of the Year by the NFL in 1988.
Jim LeClair- LeClair was a player that never got his just due. He was named to the 1976 Pro Bowl team and was a stalwart on Bengals defenses for a decade, helping to lead the Bengals to Super Bowl XVI.
Takeo Spikes- Spikes was a Bengal from 1998-2002, which means nationally he got very little recognition, but locally Spikes became a fan favorite. Spikes was seemingly every year the Bengals leader in tackles, and he was dependable to be on the field for every down. He was good against the run and the pass and had no true weaknesses.
Lemarr Parrish- Parrish is another Bengal that deserves Hall Of Fame consideration. During his eight-year career with the Bengals, he was selected to the Pro Bowl six times. He was one of the greatest return men in NFL history, as well as being one of the greatest Corners to ever play the game. Parrish ended his career with 47 interceptions and 13 Touchdowns.
Ken Riley- Intercepted 65 passes in his long distinguished career with the Bengals and was named an NFL All-Pro on four occasions.
David Fulcher- Fulcher played seven years with the Bengals and was selected to three straight Pro Bowls. He was built more like a linebacker, but have no doubt about it, he was a safety, and he was one of the best safeties in the NFL in the last half of the 1980’s. He helped lead the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII where he played one of his finest games as the Bengals fell just short of a World Championship.
Tommy Cassanova- Cassanova had a short career in the NFL of only seven years–all seven years were with the Bengals. He was named to the AFC Pro Bowl team three times before retiring to become an ophthalmologist.
Pat McInally- Ray Guy is considered the most athletic punter that ever lived. I believe McInally was. McInally was a Wide Receiver also for the Bengals and caught 57 passes in his career. Plus he is the only player to ever have a perfect score on the Wonderlic test.
Jim Breech- Breech was as consistent in the clutch as just about any kicker you will ever see. His field goal with just under four minutes left in Super Bowl XXIII gave the Bengals a 16-13 lead. If the Bengals could have held that lead Breech could have possibly been the MVP.
Forrest Gregg- I would have put Paul Brown here because let’s face it, he was a coaching legend. But, I am sorry I feel that Gregg deserves this honor. Gregg took over the Homer Rice Disaster of 1979 and immediately changed the culture of the Bengals. His first year was 1980 and he improved the Bengals by just two wins that season, finishing 6-10. The difference in 1980 was the way the team fought. They were in almost every game but couldn’t finish. They beat the World Champion Steelers in two close games and proved their mettle at the end of the season by fighting the eventual AFC Central Champion Cleveland Browns all the way to the wire before losing by three points.
Everybody knows what happened in the 1981 season as Gregg led the Bengals to the Super Bowl. Gregg’s most telling decision was to leave QB Ken Anderson as the starter after Anderson had played a horrible game one and backup QB Turk Schonert had led the team to a come from behind victory. The easy thing to do would have been to play Schonert the next game, but Gregg didn’t. He trusted his veteran leader and Anderson led the Bengals to the Super Bowl. Gregg was a man who believed in his players and didn’t take crap from anybody. Gregg always got the best out of his players.