Top 50 Moments: Bengals Trade for James Brooks

890123-Brooks-James_rushing (AP)
Running back James Brooks rushes through the San Francisco 49ers defense during Super Bowl XXIII.

Nearly 20 years after the Orioles stole Frank Robinson from Cincinnati in one of sports' most lopsided trades, the Bengals get one back for the Queen City on May 29, 1984 when they deal leading rusher Pete Johnson to San Diego for a little used and just plain little running back named James Brooks.

Johnson, the 270-pound (at times) bruiser from Ohio State, had led the team in rushing during all seven of his years in Cincy and his 1,077-yard, 16-touchdown season had been a bedrock of the 1981 AFC title run. Brooks, on the other hand, is supposed to be too small at 5-9, 195 pounds and too much of a question mark with just 1,471 yards on 223 carries in his first three seasons.

But his career is reborn under the new staff of head coach Sam Wyche and running backs coach Jim Anderson as a Pro Bowl double threat running and catching. Brooks goes on to play one more season with the Bengals than Johnson and in those eight years he passes Johnson as the club's leading rusher with 6,447 yards (since passed by Corey Dillon) on the way to four Pro Bowls.

Johnson? He played just three games in San Diego before surfacing in Miami for the final 13 games of the '84 season and his career.

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