210331-Ring-of-Honor-header
210721-Anderson-Ken-inductee
Precision passing. I mean, the most accurate I’ve ever seen. He could put it in the tightest spots, the tightest spots every. Beautiful mechanics. Just extremely intelligent. Attention to detail, an accounting-type personality, a computer-like mind. Dave Lapham

Ken Anderson was a four-time Pro Bowler who played 192 games in a career highlighted by leading the Bengals to their first Super Bowl while winning the NFL MVP and passing title in 1981. Anderson is one of five players in NFL history to win at least four league passing titles, and the only one to win consecutive passing titles in two different decades — 1974-75 and 1981-82. His 16 seasons are the most by a Bengals player.

Anderson became one of the game's top quarterbacks avoiding throwing interceptions. He's one of only five men to win at least four NFL passing titles.

His third one in 1981 not only gave him the league MVP, but also NFL Comeback Player of the Year. After getting benched in the opener, Anderson showed the resourcefulness of his franchise-longest 16 seasons when he bounced back the next week to lead them to a 31-30 victory over the Jets at Shea Stadium. The press box phones conked out and Anderson had to decipher the hand signals before he helped carry the team to Super Bowl XVI.

"It didn't start very well for me," Anderson said of that season. "I think we had five games in November all against playoff contenders and not one of them was a close game. All of a sudden it was, 'We are for real.'"

When new head coach Forrest Gregg plucked a little known former NFL assistant to coach his quarterbacks and receivers, Tulane offensive coordinator Lindy Infante, Anderson had 111 NFL starts under his belt and a .532 winning percentage (59-52) with an 0-2 record in the playoffs heading into his tenth season. He was a two-time NFL passing champion, but he was also coming off his first two losing seasons as the starter.

After the Bengals went 6-10 in 1980, Anderson the next two years would win two passing titles while leading the team to a 19-6 and one Super Bowl. That solidified Anderson's Pro Football Hall of Fame argument. The only man to win consecutive passing titles in consecutive decades in two different eras.

"We did a lot of option routes where the receivers had a lot of different things," Anderson said. "In '80, at the end of the year we were getting better and, of course it, all clicked in '81. We were kind of one of the first ones to do the quarterback bootlegs. The out-of-pockets. The nakeds. Whatever you want to call them. We had a lot of success with it. Lindy was an innovator."

Mike Brown, who thought Anderson was the real thing when he scouted him at Division III Augustana College, has often said if Munoz is the best player in Bengals history then Anderson is the most important.

"He played the most important position and he played it well," Brown said. "We were competitive with anybody when he was going at his peak. I remember the Super Bowl game with him at quarterback up in Detroit. To this day I think we were the better team. We just didn't win. He played well."

A look at the Bengals legend Ken Anderson, Ring of Honor Nominee, through the years.

back to top
Advertising
Advertising