The Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s where the game’s greats are enshrined, and their legacies remembered forever. The process of how the Hall adds its members, however, isn’t perfect. And unfortunately, as a result, some former players are Hall of Fame worthy, but never make it. Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson is the perfect example.
Ken Anderson’s Hall of Fame-worthy numbers
In Ken Anderson’s 16-year career, all with the Cincinnati Bengals, he finished with 197 touchdown passes, 32,838 yards, and a quarterback rating of 81.9. While the numbers might not be as impressive as what you see today, they were at or near the top during the 1970s and 1980s. Anderson led the league four times in passer rating, and his career average is markedly better than Warren Moon, Fran Tarkenton, and Dan Fouts, all Hall of Famers.
In addition, Anderson led the NFL in completion percentage for three seasons, including 1982, where he finished with a 70.6 percent rate, tied for sixth all-time with Drew Brees. Anderson also led the NFL in passing yards, yards per attempt, and completions on two occasions. He earned league MVP honors in 1981 and guided the Bengals to the Super Bowl that season.
What’s most remarkable about Anderson’s numbers are the time at which he accomplished them. He achieved all of this during the Dead Ball Era (1970-77), when scoring hit a post-war low. His 95.7 passer rating in 1974 was outstading compared to the league-wide average of 64.2, one of the lowest in 50 years.
And what’s even more impressive is Anderson did all of this in a new offensive scheme. Long before Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre, or Aaron Rodgers won Super Bowls running the West Coast Offense, Anderson was the original quarterback, who converted Bengals assistant coach Bill Walsh’s concept to success on the field. Yes, it all started on the banks of the Ohio river.
Comparison to other Hall of Fame quarterbacks
Unless you’re a Hall of Fame voter, it’s next to impossible trying to understand what makes a former player worthy of the Hall. The next best thing is comparing the statistics of a player with those already in the Hall. For Anderson, he stacks up quite well against some of the best quarterbacks to ever put on a helmet.
In one of the most important statistics, completion percentage, Anderson’s three years as the league leader is more than Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Dan Fouts, Dan Marino, Warren Moon, and Roger Staubach.
Anderson’s efficiency leading the league in passer rating four times was matched only by Bart Starr and passed by Steve Young (six times). In another efficiency category, yards per attempt (YPA), Anderson led the NFL three times with the highest YPA.
Ken Anderson isn’t worried about the Hall
Ken Anderson was eligible to join the Hall of Fame in 1991. That’s 30 times voters have deemed him unworthy. While no one would blame the former quarterback for being upset and resentful for his exclusion from an honor he obviously deserves, instead, the 71-year-old Anderson has more important things to focus on his life.
“I don’t think twice about it, to be honest with you, except those times of year when it comes time for the election and somebody will call and say, ‘What do you think?'” Anderson told Sporting News. “Other than that, it doesn’t cross my mind.”
Anderson said fans are more concerned about his absence in the Hall. He’s just grateful for the opportunity he had to play in the NFL.
“I guess the only time I was disappointed was the first time I was eligible, and I got into the final 15 and didn’t make it, and then it was disappointing. After that, I guess when you come from my background and grow up in a small town and go to a small high school and then go to a small college, you never dream about those things. My dream was fulfilled when I got a chance to play professional football for 16 years.”
Anderson’s dream was fulfilled, and in the process, he became one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. The record books show that and nothing can ever take that away.