There is no excuse for Ken Anderson not being in the Hall of Fame
The NFL has released the candidates for its Hall of Fame “Centennial Class”. Many worthy names are on th4 ballot. One name not on this list is Bengals great Ken Anderson, and that is an absolute travesty.
Ask anyone who follows the Bengals who the greatest quarterback in franchise history is. Most will tell you it is Ken Anderson. After putting up historic numbers in his era and leading the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance. Anderson made the number 14 legendary in the Queen City.
Anderson has been Hall of Fame eligible for decades now. Fans, former teammates, and former opponents often speak of his worthiness for the Hall. The voters are laughably late to the party. At this point, it is almost impossible to understand.
A look at the numbers
Ken Anderson finished his career with 197 touchdown passes, 32,838 yards, and a quarterback rating of 81.9. This may not sound that impressive compared to what we see today. However, for the 70’s and 80’s, they are pretty remarkable. The NFL was much more of a run based league back then. Anderson completed over 60% of his throws for five straight seasons. This is long before the shotgun formation was a thing and check downs were an offensive staple.
Anderson had the league’s highest passer rating in four seasons during his career. This was in an era with the likes of Terry Bradshaw and Dan Fouts, who are both in the Hall of Fame. There are many other great quarterbacks who played during this era whose faces reside in Canton that at least by some measures, cannot boast a better statistical career than Anderson.
Anderson’s legacy goes beyond the numbers. He helped change the way the game was played forever. Before the 49ers became a dynasty and Joe Montana became a household name, there was a young offensive coordinator with an innovative new offense making waves, Bill Walsh. Strangely, the “West Coast” offense started on the banks of the Ohio River and Anderson was the original on-field orchestrator of it.
Without Anderson, you could argue there would be no Joe Montana or Bill Walsh as we know them today. Every offense in the NFL uses some variation of this scheme today. NFL legends like Brett Favre, Mike Holmgren, and Jon Gruden built their careers on it. The roots of it all go back to Anderson.
He was the first quarterback to run that style of offense. and he did it really well, The Hall of Fame is supposed to be about people who changed and impacted the game, as well as statistics. You can argue that no one impacted the game more than Anderson.
Simply put, there is no reason why Ken Anderson should not be in the Hall of Fame. His numbers are on par with, and even exceed some other members of his era. He had as big an impact on the culture of NFL offense as anyone. The fact that Anderson is not a Hall of Famer is not an indictment on him, but is an indictment on the Hall of Fame process itself.