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Top 10 Cincinnati Bengals in NFL History

Updated on September 4, 2014

Paul Brown founded this franchise in spite of his former team. Today, I rank the top 10 Cincinnati Bengals of all time.

10. James Brooks

He is one of the most forgotten running backs in league history.

After spending three seasons in San Diego, James Brooks signed with Cincinnati in 1984. He excelled at running, receiving, and kick returning. By the time he left the Bengals, he was the team’s all time leading rusher with 6,447 yards and is still among the Bengals top 15 all time leading receivers with 297 receptions for 3,012 yards. While he is not considered a big name runner in the NFL, he did make a big difference in the Bengals offense. He was a double threat with the run and the pass.

Brooks spent his final season in Cleveland and Tampa Bay before retiring after 1992. In his 12 year career, he was a four time pro bowler.

9. Ken Riley

He's one of the most underrated cornerbacks in league history.

A sixth round pick in 1969, Ken Riley switched from quarterback to cornerback and he immediately made an impact. In his rookie year, he recorded 4 interceptions and 66 return yards. He also recovered 2 fumbles, added another 334 yards on 14 kickoff returns, and even caught 2 passes for 15 yards on offense. For the rest of his career, Riley established himself as one of the top defensive backs in Professional Football, recording three or more interceptions in all but three of his 15 seasons. In his 15 Pro Football seasons, Riley recorded a total of 65 interceptions, 596 return yards, five touchdowns, 18 fumble recoveries, 96 fumble return yards, 334 kickoff return yards, and 15 receiving yards. His interceptions, interception return yards, and interceptions returned for touchdowns are all Bengals records.

Riley retired after the 1983 season as a four time All-Pro.

8. Bob Trumpy

For a long time, he was the Bengals offense.

A 12th round pick in 1968, Bob Trumpy was one of the best receiving tight ends in his era. Despite his low draft selection, he worked hard in the offseason and managed to earn the starting tight end spot in the team's lineup. In his rookie year, he recorded 37 receptions for 639 yards and three touchdowns. In 1970, Trumpy had the best season of his career, catching 37 passes for 835 yards, and nine touchdowns. His 22.6 yards per catch that season is still a team record. Trumpy finished his 10 year career with 298 receptions for 4,600 yards and 35 touchdowns in 128 games. His 4,600 receiving yards, 35 touchdown receptions, and 15.4 yards per catch average are the most ever by a Bengals tight end.

Trumpy retired after the 1977 season as a 1968 AFL All Star, a 1969 All-AFL, and two time pro bowler.

7. Lemar Parrish

He was Deion Sanders before Deion Sanders.

A seventh round pick in 1970, Lemar Parrish immediately made an impact not just as a defensive back but also as a kick returner on special teams. In his rookie year, he recorded five interceptions, a fumble recovery, 194 yards returning punts, 482 yards returning kickoffs, and scored two touchdowns. In 1974, Parrish set a franchise record with an NFL leading 18.8 yards per punt return average. In his 13 seasons, he recorded 47 interceptions for 462 yards, 13 fumble recoveries for 65 yards, 131 punt returns for 1,205 yards, 61 kickoffs for 1,504 yards, and 13 touchdowns.

Parrish left Cincinnati due to contract disputes an he spent his final seasons in Washington and Buffalo before retiring in 1982. He was an eight time pro bowler and five time All-Pro.

6. Willie Anderson

He was a bright spot during the team's dismal seasons in the 90's and early 2000's.

A first round pick in 1996, Willie Anderson proved to be as strong and durable as any tackle in the league. In his rookie season, it was said that he was able to bench press 675 pounds. Anderson protected the teams quarterbacks for 12 seasons and helped Corey Dillon rush for the then single game rushing record. After refusing to take a pay cut, he was cut after the 2007 season.

Anderson spent his final season in Baltimore before retiring after the 2008 season. He was a four time pro bowler and three time All-Pro.

5. Chad Johnson

"Ochocinco" was one of the biggest personalities to ever step foot on the field.

A second round pick in 2001, Chad Johnson made a name for himself for his touchdown celebrations. By 2006, he was establishing himself as one of the leagues top receivers setting the league record for yardage in three consecutive games and finished the year leading the league in receiving yards. Johnson was the first Bengal ever to lead the NFL in receiving yards. He holds several franchise records including most receiving yards in a game, most receiving yards in a season, most all time receiving yards, most reception, most touchdown receptions, and most seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards.

Johnson left Cincinnati after 2010 and has played with New England, Miami, and is currently in the CFL. He has been a six time pro bowler, three time All-Pro, three time AFC receiving yards leader, and 2006 NFL receiving yards leader.

4. Corey Dillon

He was a great running back and was a huge impact for the Bengals.

A second round pick in 1997, Corey Dillon brought an instant spark to the offense. He set the then NFL rookie rushing record for yards in a single game with 246. For six seasons, Dillon was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise horrible Bengals team. From 1997-2002, he rushed for over 1,000 yards each year. In 2000, he set the then NFL record for rushing yards in a game with 278. He is the Bengals all time leading rusher.

Dillon was traded to New England in 2004. He retired in 2006 as a four time pro bowler, a member of the 10,000 yard rushing club, and a Super Bowl champion.

3. Ken Anderson

A third round draft pick in 1971, quarterback Ken Anderson was named the starter for the Cincinnati Bengals in his second year.

Anderson became the first quarterback to implement Bill Walsh's west coast offense and have success with it. He was praised for being on of the most consistent quarterbacks to come out of the 70s and 80s. Anderson set the bar for completion percentage in the decades he played as well as being underrated for his play. Anderson finished his career with four pro bowl, two seasons leading the league in passing, and the 1981 NFL MVP. The big glare on his career was the Super Bowl loss to San Francisco in the 1981 season. Although he played well, he never did enough to get past the other teams in the division in Pittsburgh and Houston in the 70s.

With Anderson's stats speaking for themselves, he deserves to be recognized as a Hall of Famer. His touchdown to interception ratio alone is better than a lot of quarterbacks that are already in Canton.

2. Boomer Esiason

He was the first quarterback to execute the no huddle offense throughout a game.

A second round pick in 1984, Boomer Esiason was brought in to be Ken Anderson's successor. In his first start, he led the Bengals to a 13–3 win over Houston and scored the game's only touchdown on a three yard run. At 6'-5" and 224 pounds and far larger than his predecessor and with a much more powerful arm, Esiason was the signal caller on one of the most potent offenses of the 80's. In 1988, he was named the NFL MVP after throwing for over 3,500 yards and 28 touchdowns and helped the team to their second Super Bowl appearance. After spending time with the Jets and Cardinals, Esiason came back to Cincinnati for one final season in 1997. was surprisingly effective after replacing Jeff Blake midway through the 1997 season throwing for 13 touchdowns and with only two interceptions and gaining a passer rating of over 106 for the season. The final play of his 14 year career was a 77 yard touchdown pass.

Esiason was a four time pro bowler, a 1988 All-Pro, the 1988 NFL MVP, and holds many team passing records as well as passing records by a left handed quarterback.

1. Anthony Muñoz

He's one of the most underrated Hall of Fame players in league history.

I know what you're thinking. Muñoz is in the Hall of Fame and he played in two Super Bowls. How can he possibly be underrated. Simple, he was the shinning star on below average teams for most of his career. Munoz is the best offensive lineman in NFL history, but he does not always receive that distinction. He went into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 1998 after a 13-year career in which he made 11 Pro Bowls and was first-team All-Pro nine times. The only other player to be first-team All-Pro that many times is Jerry Rice, who was selected 10 times.

There have been many reports that show he never gave up a sack in his entire career. That alone should make him more recognizable than any NFL left tackle. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.


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