Talking QBs: Anderson for the Hall, Dalton for the long haul

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Kenny Anderson gets a vote from Hall-of-Fame QB Terry Bradshaw.

HOUSTON - What better place to talk Bengals quarterbacks past and present than during this Super Bowl week in the town where Andy Dalton grew up and where New England's Tom Brady tries to set an NFL quarterback's most cherished record  with a fifth Lombardi Trophy in Sunday's game (6:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 19) against the Falcons.

Down here, the old-time quarterbacks still talking into microphones like the Bengals' own Boomer Esiason and Steelers Hall-Famer Terry Bradshaw both approve of Dalton's prowess running the Bengals offense and the Hall-of-Fame candidacy of Bengals all-time passing leader Ken Anderson. 

Andy Dalton, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Andrew Whitworth participate in 2017 Pro Bowl in Orlando FL.

"Andy Dalton? Yeah, I like the red head,"  belched Bradshaw, the old Pittsburgh quarterback who'll put his refreshing old-school-southern-fried bluntness  on display in this freeze dried extravaganza when  he and his cohorts at Fox call the game Brady tries to eclipse the four titles of Bradshaw in the Anderson '70s and Joe Montana in the Esiason '80s.

"Because he's good," Bradshaw said of the present, regaling the media with observations ranging from Dalton to late Houston legend Bum Phillips to his own shrunken frame compared to Brady's.

"(Dalton) hasn't done much in the playoffs yet. He's got a nice smile, nice kid. I enjoy him a lot. I'm big on nice people and he's a nice guy. And talented. I know they're on his ass about not winning. It's not all Andy. There's a lot more there."

Bradshaw could have taken the words right out of the mouth of Esiason, his smoother and glibber opposite number in the CBS studio and just as entertaining and insightful. As he finished his daily morning talk show on WFAN that has made him the voice of New York City, Esiason, the hardest working man in show business, saw the Bengals pullover and waved it over during a rare station break.

"Look at all the things that happened his year," said Esiason, running through the injuries to A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert and the free-agent defections of  two other targets in Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.

"And it didn't have a negative impact on who he was as a player? It probably made him a better player. It's not on Andy Dalton this year. At all. Not even  close. … I would probably take seven quarterbacks before I took him … Most fans I know who live in New York and are Bengals fans actually admire Andy. They like him … There are few quarterbacks you could acquire who would be any better.

"And he's a solid guy, high character guy. Solid. He's a worker. He cares about it. I don't know what to tell you. He's going to be around awhile. He's exactly the kind of guy the Bengals like.  Under the radar. Steady. Solid. Consistent."

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Andy Dalton is closing in on Boomer Esiason's 61 wins as a Bengal.

Just like Norman Julius Esiason, 1988 NFL MVP, right?

"No," he said with a big laugh. "I was rambunctious, inconsistent, not under the radar."

If he had a Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot, which are handed out here Saturday, Esiason would vote for the only quarterback available, Kurt Warner, the former stock boy who rose from indoor football to NFL MVP. Many see Warner as a border-line candidate after one win in three Super Bowl appearances. Not Esiason.

"The Greatest Show on Turf.  He was awesome. They were awesome," said Esiason of Warner's turn-of-the-century Rams. "He took two franchises, and one of them was the Cardinals, to the Super Bowl, and they could have won that game easily. It wasn't because of him. He threw a bad interception in the end zone, but at the end of the day he's a great player."

But Esiason says that his predecessor QBing the Stripes, Anderson, the 1981 NFL MVP, should be the first quarterback in the Hall before Warner and everyone else.  Anderson is a Senior candidate who has yet to be on the finals ballot, but Esiason and many others keep pushing.

Quietly, Anderson is the only man with at least three NFL passing titles eligible for the Hall who isn't in. By the time he retired as Esiason's backup after the 1986 season, Anderson was the NFL leader in completion percentage for a game (90.91), season (70.55) and career for the postseason (66.3)

"You don't have to tell me," said Esiason, who used Tuesday's show to lobby Hall-of-Fame voter Peter King for Ken Anderson and Jets defensive lineman Joe Klecko. "I don't mean to discredit anyone's career, but of half the guys in the Hall of Fame, Kenny is right there or above. Kenny Anderson was a much better quarterback than Joe Namath. (Namath) was New York. If (Super Bowl III) was the Kansas City Chiefs or Houston Oilers, it wouldn't have happened. You've got to take a guy when he retires. I mean Kenny was completing 70 percent of his passes when it was hand-to-hand combat in the secondary."

The number 70 percent came up in Bradshaw's sit down with Brady on Tuesday that airs Sunday. Bradshaw told him everybody has to hit 70 percent now and he made the Hall barely completing 50.

But Anderson was hitting 70 even then.

"I never saw the West Coast offense until Kenny Anderson started running that thing," Bradshaw said. "He was 20-for-22 against us one day. Yeah, I would put him in. I thought he was a hell of a quarterback. Absolutely. He was really good. Just really good. He threw a great ball. He was accurate. He was polished. He was poised. I saw a lot of Kenny Anderson.  I would put him in a heartbeat. I would have no problem with that."

Cincinnati Ben-Gal Cheerleader Sarah attends 2017 Pro Bowl in Orlando, FL.

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