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Ike: A.J. as talented as any in NFL right now

Posted Nov 9, 2011


A.J. Green

Adriel Jeremiah Green, meet Isaac Fischer Curtis.

You’ve never met Curtis, the greatest wide receiver in Bengals history, but he knows all about you and after making the drive to Nashville this past weekend to play 27 holes and then watch the Bengals beat the Titans, Sir Isaac is ready to bestow his blessing.

He’s even more convinced you’ve got a great chance to catch him.

“He’s as talented as anyone in the league right now. He’s got unlimited talent. He’s fun to watch and he’s certainly as talented as anyone that’s come through here,” Curtis said Wednesday.

With all due respect toChad Ochocinco’s franchise-best 751 catches and 10,783 yards, Curtis has to get the nod simply because he put up 21st-century numbers before NFL offenses moved into the 20th century and is one of the pioneers that made it all possible. His 7,101 yards is second in club history even though they came on just 416 catches, mainly in the dead ball era during his career that went from 1973-84.

For instance, in eight games Green already has 40 catches for 599 yards, a game away from Curtis’s rookie season of 45. But Curtis had 843 yards for an 18.7 average and with five touchdowns Green is chasing Curtis’s club rookie record of nine.

Asked if Green could scale the throne, Sir Isaac likes his odds.

“We’ll see what happens,” Curtis said. “But he’s well on his way. He’s got the full package. Size, speed, great hands, agility, adjusts to the ball.”

Ken Anderson, Curtis’s quarterback, says his main target was a football player who just happened to be one of the fastest sprinters in the United States and not the other way around like many burners. Curtis agrees that Green is about as close as anyone has come since he retired to having so many of the tools, and that’s no knock on The Ocho.

“Chad was a tremendous player here; he had some great seasons,” Curtis said. “But this kid might be a cut above. And I mean a cut above a lot of people. I really like him. I like his demeanor. He seems to be very pleasant, and he’s just going to mature and get better and better.”

Curtis, the original No. 85 and now a business consultant who still lives in Cincinnati, always enjoyed watching The Ocho and admired his game. But he admits his own on-field personality is closer to the glacial Green than the combustible Chad.

“He’s a cool customer. He doesn’t go much for celebration,” said Curtis, 61, who defined ‘70s cool with frosty grace. “That’s the way I chose to do it, but everyone’s different. It wouldn’t be fun if everyone was the same. I’ll tell you what. He’s not afraid to go get the ball now. He’ll go anywhere. Across the middle, on the sideline, he doesn’t seem to shy away from it.”

If you turn around Green’s jersey number of 18 you get 81, the same season wide receiver Cris Collinsworth became not only the first Bengal rookie but the first Bengal to catch 1,000 yards with 1,009. Tuesday was the 30th anniversary of the Bengals coming-of-age 40-17 victory in San Diego in which the Chargers chose to pay attention to Collinsworth and tight end Dan Ross and leave Curtis one-on-one.

Not one of the great moves. At halftime, Curtis had all of his eight catches for 147 yards and a touchdown. Thirty year later, Curtis raved about Green’s 20-yard catch on third-and-18 last Sunday in the winning drive.

“You mean the one down by the goal line where the two (defenders) ran into each other?” Curtis asked. “Great catch. That’s what I mean. He’ll go up and get it. He can adjust his body. He doesn’t care where the ball is. He's like these big receivers that are out there. You know, 6-3, 6-4 and just go get it." 

Curtis went to Sunday’s game with a few of his ’81 teammates, Louis Breeden and Ross Browner, after some golf Saturday and Sunday and stayed to the bitter end. He plans to be at Paul Brown Stadium for Sunday’s 1 p.m. Steelers game (Cincinnati’s Local 12).

“I enjoyed it. They’re fun to watch,” Curtis said. “I think we’ve got something going. I’m really impressed with (Andy) Dalton, especially since there were no offseason workouts.”

But there’s no question who he’s watching, he hopes, for a long time.

“Let’s keep (Green) healthy and happy,” Sir Ike said. "The great thing about it is he'll have his own generation of fans."

 

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