A birthday salute

Posted Feb 15, 2016

Happy 67th birthday to Bengals all-time passing leader Ken Anderson, born this day the day after Valentine’s Day in Batavia, Ill., but always an adopted son of Cincinnati. In honor of the original No. 14, we present a by-the-numbers argument for Anderson’s enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Happy 67th birthday to Bengals all-time passing leader Ken Anderson, born this day the day after Valentine’s Day in Batavia, Ill., but always an adopted son of Cincinnati.

In honor of the original No. 14, we present a by-the-numbers argument for Anderson’s enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

With the election earlier this month of Anderson’s more-than-worthy peer from the 1970s, Ken Stabler, one of the greatest winners in the history of the game, we don’t expect the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame senior committee to put forward a quarterback’s name for a couple of more years. But Stabler’s election shows the committee is well aware of the credentials of quarterbacks from that era.

Anderson isn’t lacking for persuasive supporters. The work of Cincinnati realtor David Kubicki and Cincinnati sport talk show master Lance McAlister can be seen in some of these numbers:

1 - When Anderson retired in 1986, he held the all-time record for the best completion percentage in a season (70.55 in 1982), in a game (90.91 vs. the Steelers in 1974), and for a post-season career (66.27 in six games).

 And the records hung around long enough to get mothballed.

It wasn’t until the first decade of the 21st century when Kurt Warner eclipsed Anderson’s career post-season mark of 66.45, which is slightly ahead of Matt Ryan at 66.31 and barely ahead of Anderson in second place for all-time post-season completion percentage.

It took 27 years for Drew Brees to break Anderson’s record in a season with 70.62 and in 2011 Brees broke his own record, completing 71.23 percent of his passes, leaving Anderson with the third best single-season completion percentage of all-time. And it took Cleveland’s Vinny Testaverde 19 years to break Anderson’s work in a game with 91.30 percent against the Rams, since bested by the Cards’ Warner with 92.31 against Jacksonville in 2009 and making Anderson’s day against Pittsburgh the third most accurate of all-time.

4 - NFL passing titles won by Anderson in 1975-76 and 1981-82. He’s the only man to win it back-to-back in two different decades.

5 - Players who have won at least four NFL passing titles.

 The other four are in the Hall of Fame: Sammy Baugh and Steve Young with six each and Roger Staubach and Len Dawson, both with four.

5.6 - Anderson’s career yards per rush.

Now think about Anderson as a scrambler, maybe his most underrated trait. He rushed for 2,200 yards on 397 carries and of the 25 Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks, only six had both as many carries and yards.

And the only one with more than 5.6 yards per attempt is Young with 5.9 on 4,239 yards on 722 attempts.

And those 5.6 are slightly better than the yards per rush put up by two of the greatest scramblers of all-time with “Fran the Scram” Tarkenton at 5.4 (3,674 yards on 675 rushes) and “Roger the Dodger,” Staubach at 5.5 and a very comparable 2,264 yards on 410 tries.

7.3 - Anderson’s career yards per pass, forever dooming the dinker-and-dunker label.

It is a mark better than five Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks (John Elway, Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, Terry Bradshaw and Bobby Layne) and the same as five others: Baugh, Tarkenton, Dan Marino, Bob Griese, and Bob Waterfield.

13 - Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks Anderson leads on the all-time passing yardage list with 32,838 yards.  

14 - Anderson’ jersey number now worn by Andy Dalton with Anderson’s approval. Dalton has quarterbacked five teams to the postseason (2011-15) with no wins while Anderson led the Bengals to four postseasons (1973, ‘75, ’81-82) with two wins and an AFC title.

31 - Anderson’s all-time ranking on’s list of weighted career approximate value, tied with single-season sack leader Michael Strahan and current Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Of the 26 retired players in front of Anderson, 23 are in the Hall of Fame and that includes Bengals teammate Anthony Munoz, tied for No. 18. The three who aren’t in the Hall are eligible in the next two years: running back LaDainian Tomlinson in 2017 and linebacker Ray Lewis and wide receiver Randy Moss in 2018.

51 - TD passes Anderson threw to Isaac Curtis, the most prolific QB to wide receiver tandem in Bengals history and in the top 25 all-time in the NFL. Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson had 44, but Dalton and A.J. Green are on the path with 40.

59.3 - Anderson’s career completion percentage. Of the 25 Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks, that would rank eighth, behind Young (64.3), Joe Montana (63.2), Brett Favre (62), Troy Aikman (61.5), Jim Kelly (60.1), Stabler (59.8), and Marino (59.4).




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