Cincinnati Bengals: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Willie Anderson, Cincinnati Bengals
(Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images) /

OT. (1996-07). Willie Anderson. 11. player. 56.

  • 4x Pro Bowl (2003-06)
  • 3x First-Team All-Pro (2004-06)
  • 181 career games, 173 career starts w/Bengals
  • Cincinnati Bengals 40th Anniversary Team

It had only been few years since Anthony Muñoz retired, but the Bengals were looking to find another stalwart they could count on the offensive line for over a decade. By taking right tackle Willie Anderson No. 10 overall out of Auburn, the Bengals definitely got that in the 1996 NFL Draft.

As a rookie in 1996, Anderson made 10 starts and played in all 16 games at left tackle. In his second year, Anderson became a staple at right tackle, starting all 16 games for the 1997 Bengals. From there, Anderson developed a reputation as an iron man. Until his final season with the team in 2007, he missed only two starts from 1996 to 2006.

With the arrival of Marvin Lewis to the Queen City, the Bengals would start to turn it around offensively. Beginning in year eight, Anderson would become a perennial Pro Bowler for Cincinnati. He rattled off four-straight Pro Bowls from 2003 to 2006.

In 2004, Anderson would really hit his stride. He became a first-team All-Pro for the first time in his career. Anderson achieved that feat the next three seasons. However, 2007 would be a frustrating year for him, as it would end up being his last season with the team that drafted him.

Anderson only played in seven games, making five starts for the 2007 Bengals. Only two years into a five-year extension he signed with the club in 2006, Anderson was asked by ownership to take a pay cut. He didn’t want any part of that, so the Bengals released him.

Anderson did sign a three-year deal with the division rival Baltimore Ravens, but only played the 2008 campaign in the Charm City before retiring at the age of 32. Overall, Anderson played 12 of his 13 professional seasons in Cincinnati. He made 173 starts in 181 games for the Bengals.

Though he is a prime candidate to reside in the Hall of Very Good, Anderson is widely seen as the second best offensive lineman in franchise history to only Muñoz. It comes as no surprise that this is the tackle tandem that made the Bengals 40th Anniversary Team in 2007.