Cincinnati Bengals: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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56. . WR. (1973-84). Isaac Curtis. 9. player

  • 4x Pro Bowl (1973-76)
  • 3x Second-Team All-Pro (1974-76)
  • NFL yards per reception leader (1975)
  • Franchise leader in career yards per reception (17.1)
  • Career 416 receptions for 7,101 yards and 53 touchdowns with Bengals

Isaac Curtis could absolutely fly. He was a brilliant downfield receiving threat for the Bengals for a decade. Curtis was initially a track star in college, but did play for Don Coryell for a year at wide receiver at San Diego State. Due to his one year of success in college, former Bengals coach Paul Brown took a flyer on him and used a first-round pick on the gifted Aztec wideout.

That proved to be huge for the Bengals, as Curtis became the first great wide receiver of many in Cincinnati lore. He quickly developed a great working relationship with a young quarterback by the name of Ken Anderson.

Curtis became a star right out of the gate for the Bengals in 1973, as he rattled off his first of four straight Pro Bowl nods. Though he never had 50 catches in a season or went over 1,000 yards receiving in a year, Curtis was widely seen as one of the most difficult receivers to cover in his era on account of his foot speed.

Curtis was routinely over 15 yards per reception in his NFL career. He led the NFL in yards per catch in 1975 with an absurd 21.2. That was his third trip to the Pro Bowl, as he had 44 receptions for 934 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games.

His ability to stretch the field often had Curtis as an All-Pro level player. He made three straight All-Pro second teams from 1974 to 1976. Curtis’ speed also led to the “Isaac Curtis Rule”, which allowed NFL defensive backs to initiate contact within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Curtis was so fast it was close to impossible to contain him otherwise.

After 12 seasons with the Bengals, Curtis called it a career after the 1984 campaign at the age of 34. He accumulated 416 receptions for 7,101 yards and 53 touchdowns. Curtis remains the franchise leader in yards per reception in a career with 17.1.

Though he’s not going to ever make it into Canton, his rapport with Anderson might help the former Bengals great signal caller to eventually earn his rightful bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Simply put, Curtis changed the game at wide receiver with his blazing speed.