Cincinnati Bengals: 15 greatest wide receivers of all-time

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Cris Collinsworth, Cincinnati Bengals
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) /

WR. (1981-88). Cris Collinsworth. 5. player. 56.

  • 3x Pro Bowl (1981-83)
  • 4x Second-Team All-Pro (1981-83, 1985)
  • 417 career receptions
  • 6,698 career receiving yards
  • 36 career touchdown receptions

Cris Collinsworth is best known today for having the lead football analyst job on Sunday Night Football for NBC. He also owns the popular and transformative football analytics company Pro Football Focus. But let’s not forget just how great of a receiver Collinsworth was in the 1980s starring for the Bengals.

Drafted in the second round out of Florida No. 37 overall, Collinsworth had a spectacular rookie season playing for the Bengals in 1981. He made his first of three-straight Pro Bowl nods with a career-best 67 catches for 1,009 yards and eight touchdown catches. Collinsworth would also make his first of four All-Pro Second Teams over a five-year span in 1981.

Most importantly, the Bengals would make their first trip to the Super Bowl in 1981. Cincinnati got an MVP season out of quarterback Ken Anderson running the West Coast Offense, before ultimately falling to its creator in Bill Walsh’s San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVI.

Four times in his eight-year NFL career spent entirely with the Bengals did Collinsworth go over 1,000 yards receiving. His career-best in yardage came in 1983 with 1,130. However, his best single-season touchdown mark came later in his career with 10 in 1986.

The 1980s were the golden age of Bengals football with three trips to the AFC Playoffs and two trips to the Super Bowl coming in 1981 and 1988. Unfortunately, Super Bowl XXI’s defeat to the 49ers would end up being Collinsworth’s last game as a professional. He retired after the 1988 season at the age of 29 before beginning a top-tier career as a football analyst.

On paper, Collinsworth isn’t getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player anytime soon. However, he finished with 417 receptions for 6,698 yards and 36 touchdown catches during his Bengals career. While some of those numbers have been diminished over time, Collinsworth was a key piece to the aerial assault in Cincinnati in the 1980s with first Anderson in the West Coast and late with Boomer Esiason in the no-huddle.