Cincinnati Bengals’ all-time Mount Rushmore: 4 best players in franchise history

June 3, 2020

The Cincinnati Bengals started out in the American Football League in 1968 before it merged with the National Football League in 1970.

The Bengals have had successful seasons since then but none of them have produced Super Bowl wins.

That’s not to say that the organization has not produced Hall of Fame players that have been among the best in the league at one point or another.

But who would make a Mount Rushmore of Bengals players? Take a look at the list below.

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ANTHONY MUÑOZ

Anthony Muñoz was a top offensive lineman in the NFL.
(Getty Images)

Anthony Muñoz is by far the best player to suit up for the Bengals. Cincinnati selected Muñoz with the No. 3 pick of the 1980 NFL Draft.

After 11 Pro Bowl and nine All-Pro selections, Muñoz was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His 11 Pro Bowl selections came in consecutive seasons between 1981 and 1991. He played 13 seasons with the Bengals but was unable to capture that Super Bowl ring.

Muñoz was named to the First Team All-1980s Team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was also named as one of the Top 100 NFL players of all-time.

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KEN ANDERSON

Ken Anderson led the Bengals to their first Super Bowl. (Getty Images)

Ken Anderson led the Bengals to their first Super Bowl. (Getty Images)

Ken Anderson may have been one of the most successful quarterbacks for the Bengals during their history. Cincinnati selected Anderson in the third round of the 1971 draft. He spent 16 seasons with the Bengals and won one MVP award, one All-Pro selection, and was named to the Pro Bowl four times.

Anderson led the league in passing yards twice – 1974 (2,667 yards) and 1975 (3,169 yards). He made the playoffs four times during his career as well. He led the Bengals to Super Bowl XVI, where they would lose 26-21 to the San Francisco 49ers. It was the furthest the team would get until the 1988 season.

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KEN RILEY

Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Ken Riley was in control of the secondary (Photo by Clifton Boutelle/Getty Images)

Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Ken Riley was in control of the secondary (Photo by Clifton Boutelle/Getty Images)

Ken Riley represents the best defensive player the Bengals have ever had. The team selected the defensive back in the sixth round of the 1969 draft.

Riley played for the Bengals for 15 seasons and was an interceptions machine. Fourteen out of his 15 seasons, Riley recorded two or more interceptions. Twelve of his 15 seasons he had three or more interceptions. In 1976, he had nine interceptions and one of them was returned for a touchdown.

He only earned an All-Pro selection one time – in 1983. He had eight interceptions with two of them returned for a touchdown. He had 65 interceptions in his career, which is good for fifth all-time behind Paul Krause (81), Emlen Tunnell (79), Rod Woodson (71), and Dick “Night Train” Lane (68).

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BOOMER ESIASON

Boomer Esiason was one of the top quarterbacks in team history. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Boomer Esiason was one of the top quarterbacks in team history. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

It might be rare for most organizations to have produced two great quarterbacks – one right after the other – but the Bengals did just that. As Anderson’s time was coming to an end, the Bengals drafted Boomer Esiason in the second round in 1984.

Esiason was the Bengals’ quarterback from 1984 to 1992 and then again in 1997. Like Anderson, he would win one MVP award and take the team to a Super Bowl only to lose to the 49ers. Esiason recorded 27,139 passing yards and 187 touchdowns for the Bengals.

He also had stints with the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals.