Bengals All-Time Lists

Cincinnati Bengals: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Boomer Esiason, Cincinnati Bengals
17 Dec 1988: Quarterback Boomer Esiason of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on during a game against the Washington Redskins at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won the game, 20-17. /

player. 56. . QB. (1984-92, 1997). Boomer Esiason. 4

  • NFL MVP (1988)
  • 3x Pro Bowl w/Bengals (1986, 1988-89)
  • 1x First-Team All-Pro (1988)
  • NFL passer rating leader (1988)
  • Franchise leader in career yards per attempt (7.6)

Boomer Esiason may be best known today for the great work he does in the studio covering the NFL for CBS, but he was an outstanding quarterback in his own right. To put it frankly, he is one of the five best left-handed quarterbacks of all-time, right up there with Steve Young, Ken Stabler and Michael Vick.

Esiason initially starred at the University of Maryland for head coach Bobby Ross. Despite being the best pro quarterback prospect in the 1984 NFL Draft, Esiason had to wait until the second round before the Bengals took him at No. 38. He would spend his first nine NFL seasons in Cincinnati.

As a rookie in 1984, he had to backup longtime Bengals starting quarterback Ken Anderson. Eventually the roles were reversed, as Esiason became the Cincinnati starter in year two in 1985. Anderson backed up Esiason in his final two professional seasons in 1985 and 1986.

While Anderson was a more precise thrower of the football, Esiason had a rocket for a left arm. It seemed to work just fine in head coach Sam Wyche’s innovative no-huddle offense. Esiason would make three Pro Bowl rosters with the Bengals over a four-year window from 1986 to 1989.

His best season as a professional came in 1988 when he won NFL MVP. Esiason led the NFL in passer rating with 97.4, completing 57.5 percent of his passes for 3,572 yards, 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The no-huddle offense run by Wyche and Esiason catapulted the Bengals to their second Super Bowl in eight seasons.

Esiason made one last Pro Bowl with the Bengals in 1989. After two down years with the Bengals in 1991 and 1992, Esiason was traded to the New York Jets to play for his hometown team. That would prove to be a good move for Esiason, as he got to his fourth and final Pro Bowl quarterbacking the 1993 New York Jets.

He would quarterback New York the next three seasons. After spending the 1996 season with the Arizona Cardinals, Esiason would come back to the Queen City to play one last year with the 1997 Bengals before retiring at the age of 36.

Overall, Esiason went 62-61 as the Bengals starting quarterback in 10 seasons over two stints. He completed 56.5 percent of his passes for 27,149 yards, 187 touchdowns and 131 interceptions in Bengals uniform. Though probably a candidate to reside in the Hall of Very Good, Esiason remains one of the best eligible quarterbacks not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the likes of Anderson, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb and Phil Simms.

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