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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Cincinnati Bengals
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player. 56. . WR. (1973-84). Isaac Curtis. 4

  • 4x Pro Bowl (1973-76)
  • 3x Second-Team All-Pro (1974-76)
  • 1975 NFL yards per reception leader (21.2)
  • 7,101 career receiving yards

Isaac Curtis was one of the preeminent vertical threats during his playing days. After spending one last season in college at San Diego State after three with Cal, the Bengals drafted Curtis No. 15 overall in the 1973 NFL Draft. He spent his entire 12-year NFL career in the Queen City.

Curtis may have never caught 50 passes in a season, or go over 1,000 yards receiving in a year. He only had 10 or more touchdowns in a season once in 1974. However, Curtis was a track star in every sense of the word. Nobody could stay in front of the guy. He could absolutely fly outside of the numbers.

Curtis began his NFL career by rattling off four-straight trips to the Pro Bowl from 1973 to 1976. In 1975, he had arguably the best season of his career. Curtis had 44 catches for 934 yards and seven touchdowns. That was the most yardage he had in any season receiving, as he led the NFL in yards per reception with an impressive 21.2.

From 1974 to 1976, Curtis was named Second-Team All-Pro each year. Though still a reliable receiver throughout his career, he never surpassed his yardage total of 766 after the 1976 NFL season. Curtis played with the Bengals through the 1984 NFL season, being part of the first Super Bowl team in 1981 along the way. He retired in 1984 at the age of 34.

Curtis was not only a game changer in the receiving game, but a rule changer as well. “The Isaac Curtis Rule” came about after the Miami Dolphins opted to hit him and push him out of bounds in the 1973 AFC playoffs to counterbalance his explosive speed off the line of scrimmage. His ‘rule’ states that a defensive back can make contact with a receiver within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but not after it. Otherwise, it will result in a pass interference flag.

Overall, Curtis amassed 416 catches for 7,101 yards and 53 touchdowns entirely with the Bengals. While he will likely reside in the Hall of Very Good, Curtis’ body of work as a receiver has had him firmly on the Bengals’ receiving corps Mount Rushmore since he hung up the spikes in 1984.