Hall of Fame season


Ken Anderson

On the heels of last week's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction, the drive to secure a spot for former Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson takes another turn later this month when the Hall's senior committee meets in Canton to settle on its two players that make the 2013 finals.

The Bengals.com Hall of Fame is also busy with the fans casting nearly 6,000 votes to pick the 10 finalists for the 2012 class.

The top three of running back James Brooks, head coach Sam Wyche, and right guard Max Montoya head the finals balloting over the next month with the results of the final three announced the week of Cincinnati's Sept. 16 home opener against Cleveland.

The fans left no doubt how they feel about Anderson when they made him their top vote-getter in the Bengals.com Hall's inaugural class back in 2009. Pro Football Hall of Famers Paul Brown and Anthony Muñoz were automatics and Anderson led the fans' vote with quarterback Boomer Esiason and wide receiver Isaac Curtis rounding out the class.

Anderson's bid to make the Pro Hall via the senior route (players who have been retired at least 25 years) was revived last year by Cincinnati realtor David Kubicki in a blanket campaign of stats and testimonials. This year he ratcheted it up with a highlights DVD he sent to members of the nine-member senior committee.

It gets the memories rolling and is must viewing for Bengals fans of every stripe. In Kubicki's mind, even the two narrators are more evidence that Anderson belongs because Dave Lapham and Bob Trumpy are former Anderson teammates that stepped up to do it for their friend.

The DVD not only gives a refresher course on just how prettily Anderson threw the ball, but Trumpy's booming baritone reminds you how he dominated sports broadcasting during the 30 years after he played. It is always the voice that can make you forget he was one of the first great pass-catching tight ends while going to four Pro Bowls.

Bengals fans never forget, of course. Trumpy finished a very strong eighth in this Bengals.com Hall preliminary with his haul of 47.3 percent of ballots bracketing him with all-time rushing leader Corey Dillon (49.8) and first Super Bowl coach Forest Gregg (46.9). It's a remarkable total given that Trumpy last caught a ball in 1977, 11 years before the birth of current Bengals Pro Bowl tight end Jermaine Gresham.

Listen to Trumpy on Kubicki's DVD stately proclaim of Anderson, "I was proud to be his teammate," and there has to be a chill in every nook and cranny of Bengaldom.

"To me, Trump has always had the John Facenda voice. He's got some of the greatest pipes of all-time," says Lapham, the Bengals guard who played for both Brown and Gregg. "He could have voiced over National Geographic specials.

"There's no doubt he had one of the greatest announcing careers ever. He did just about every sport you can think of."

Lapham is having a pretty good run himself. He's already a local legend as the Bengals radio analyst in four decades as well as one of the nation's more respected college TV analysts. The Anderson narration was a labor of love. They roomed together for six seasons on the road and are still close enough to call each other "Roomie" in certain moments.

The DVD allowed Lapham to verbalize what he wrote to the voters last year: "He never took credit for a win and always took responsibility for a loss."

The footage also reminded Lapham just how well his friend played the game. Lapham knows Anderson is the only man to win back-to-back NFL passing titles in two different decades and the only man to win at least three that is eligible not to be in the Hall.

But for Lapham, just watching Anderson again made the old days with quarterbacks coach Bill Walsh come rushing back and validated the Hall of Fame stats.

"I was just marveling at his deep ball accuracy," Lapham says. "His crispness. His body mechanics. He just threw the crap out of the ball. Bill Walsh broke him down and built him back up. His technique was phenomenal. The guy always threw a spiral. It never came out of his hand badly. It was always a spiral. Unbelievable."

Lapham won't be there for Anderson's mega fundraiser for adult autism when he hosts the Sept. 10 Fountain Square Kickoff for the Bengals season. He'll be calling the opener in Baltimore, but he's hoping it turns into a twin celebration for Anderson becoming one of the Hall's two senior candidates.

"Here's a guy that was a great player and was just so humble," Lapham said. "He was the same guy. Whether we were 12-4 or 4-12."

Lapham is also keeping an eye on the Bengals.com Hall vote and he says the fans have it right with Montoya. Montoya would be the first guard in the Hall and the second offensive lineman next to Muñoz.

"Oh yeah, he was the best guard I've seen here," Lapham says. "I'd say he'd have to be the best Bengals guard. Max was strong. He was as solid and as good a pass protector as I saw. During his years in the league, he was as quick as anybody in the area of five to 10 yards."

Brooks, the versatile back second on the club rushing list and 11th on the receiving list, pulled the most votes with 71 percent. Wyche (67.9) and Montoya (66.8) were right there. David Fulcher, the Pro Bowl safety who was with those three on the '88 AFC champs, finished fourth with 62.4 percent. The club's kicker, Jim Breech (58.3), rounded out the Super Bowl Five.

Also making the top 10 balloting were six-time Pro Bowl cornerback Lemar Parrish (50.9), Dillon, Trumpy, Gregg, and linebacker Reggie Williams with 42.3 percent.

The next five that finished out of the running were the running back the Bengals traded for Brooks, Pete Johnson (37.7), wide receiver Carl Pickens (32.8), offensive lineman Rich Braham (32.7), and tight ends Dan Ross (31.1) and Rodney Holman at 28.4.

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