Q: Can you break it down to me why Ken Riley, Ken Anderson, Isaac Curtis and Max Montoya or any other great Bengal is not included in Hall of Fame talk? Is it because the Bengals were not constant Super Bowl caliber teams back in their days or because the team has a so called bad reputation now? I thought the Hall was based on individual achievements on and off the field.
--Kevin, Colorado Springs, CO
KEVIN: One of my favorite but frustrating topics. You hit some of the reasons, but I would also throw in size of the market, the egregious over-emphasis of winning a Super Bowl on a candidate's resume, and the transition on the selection committee.
With all due respect to Max, a fine interior player on one of the NFL's all-time great offensive lines, he's not in Canton category. But cornerback Lemar Parish certainly is. He went to six of his eight Pro Bowls while with Cincinnati. Only Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz (11) went to more as a Bengal.
This is quite topical with this week's news that former Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau all but secured a 2010 induction with his selection as a veteran committee finalist. But just the fact LeBeau had to wait to go in 37 years after his 62 career picks shows the Hall flaws don't hurt just Bengals.
And the only reason LeBeau is on the verge of getting in is because of what happened in the last four years. He coordinated two Super Bowl defenses for the Steelers and stayed in the limelight. The last two decades in which the Bengals have had one winning season has really hurt them on the national scene and with the media. Mention the Bengals and you're not going to hear about the rich history of the '70 and '80s but merely a wisecrack.
And the people who covered the Andersons and the Curtises and are on the 44-member Hall selection board are rapidly becoming extinct. The esteemed Dr. Z of Sports Illustrated fame said it almost a decade ago when I asked him the same thing you asked me.
Z cocked his head to the meeting room and said something like, "About eight percent of them heard about Isaac Curtis and two percent Ken Riley."
So you wonder so many years later how many of the Hall's nine-member veterans committee that just tapped LeBeau know that Riley passed LeBeau on the all-time interceptions list while LeBeau coached him in 1983. With his 65 career interceptions, Riley is the only one of the six players ahead of LeBeau on the list that isn't the Hall.
And you have to believe market and Super Bowls have more to do with it than it should.
Anderson threw for 300 yards in his one Super Bowl. Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese, inducted in 1990, played in three and didn't hit that number combined. Griese had a career passer rating of 77 with 192 TD passes and one NFL passing title. Anderson is at 81.9, 199 TDs and four passing titles.
Q: We all know that Benson is the starting tailback. I was just wondering why DeDe Dorsey hasn't really gotten a chance much. He seems much faster and has hit the holes quicker then Benson, in my opinion.*
--Chad, Fairborn, OH
CHAD: Hard to consider Dorsey for the No. 1 job because of his size and injury history. Those two things disqualify him as a No. 1 back and put his roster bid in jeopardy. I love the guy. No question he's quick and explosive, but he has a hard time staying healthy. I think that's why they're taking a long look at Brian Leonard, a guy you'd say isn't as gifted athletically as DeDe, but is probably a bit more of well-rounded back.
That said, if you knew Dorsey was going to stay healthy, he'd be great to have as a situational and special teams guy. But it looks like sixth-round pick Bernard Scott is what Dorsey was in '06, the exciting rookie back.
Q: With the possible loss of our top two tight ends, what do think the chances are that the Bengals show more three wide receiver sets to get our best touchdown machine (Chris Henry) out on the field more?
--Jake, Xenia, OH
JAKE: I hear you. For the second straight year injuries look to have robbed offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski of his attempt to beef up the running game with more two tight-end sets.
So yeah, I'd say they go with more three-receiver sets. My question is, why does Henry have to wait to get on the field as one of three receivers? I would think he can run by guys just as well with The Ocho or Coles on the other side in a two-receiver set.
What this also could mean is that we'll see rookie tight end Chase Coffman quicker as a receiver. It's what he does best and what would be wrong with splitting him out?