Yes, it's Valentine's Day, and we're all supposed to focus on love and all that stuff. But this is a site dedicated to football! There's no room for candy hearts and warm wishes. With that in mind, Bengals 101 has put together a list of the most despised players ever to line up against the orange and black. Of course, we could have just put down a roster from the Pittsburgh Steelers, but we're more thorough than that. The following represents a group of players for whom boos just weren't enough to express just how much we hate them.
QB: Joe Montana: Do we really need to explain why he's on here? Thirty-four freaking seconds! Lewis Billups could have saved him from being on this list, but dropped that chance in the end zone. And don't forget the regular season "Hail Mary" either when Sam Wyche tried to run out the clock. Montana is the hands down choice for quarterback and captain of this team.
RB: Freeman McNeil: McNeil, who had a nice if not spectacular career with the New York Jets, went off against the Bengals in the first round of the 1982 playoffs, denying the Bengals an opportunity to possibly defend their AFC championship. McNeil rushed for 202 yards that January day and averaged 9.6 yards per carry in the Jets 44-17 victory. The Bengals were trailing by only six heading into the fourth quarter when McNeil salted the game away. It would be the final playoff appearance for Ken Anderson and Forrest Gregg.
WR: Hines Ward: Jerry Rice put up 215 yards and single-handedly won Super Bowl XXIII, but for career achievement in punking the Bengals in every conceivable way, no one approaches Hines Ward. From his cheap shot against Keith Rivers that broke Rivers' jaw to his mocking the Icky Shuffle at Paul Brown Stadium, Ward is one of the most despised opponents ever.
TE: Heath Miller: Although opposing tight ends have seemingly always caused the Bengals trouble, Heath Miller of Pittsburgh stands out. He has the advantage of a long body of work over players like Jim Mandich and Dave Casper who did their damage in post season games, but didn't elevate their performances to the level of hatred. Has any one receiver ever converted more third downs against the Bengals? I couldn't find that statistic, but certainly Miller seems to always be there with the ball in his hands just when the Bengals defense looks like it's going to get the Steelers off the field.
OL: Randy Cross: The former Niner gets the nod, not just for his efforts in defeating Cincinnati twice in the Super Bowl, but for his dependable ant-Bengals commentary as a color analyst on television. If Cross is doing a Bengals game, you can count on him siding with any call that goes against the team.
DL: Kimo von Oelhoffen: Had not Kimo destroyed Carson Palmer's knee in the playoffs (and with it the Bengals immediate hopes for the future), Seattle's Joe Nash probably would have won the award for his faking injuries in an effort to slow down the Bengals hurry up offense in the 1988 playoffs. Kimo is also the only former Bengal on this list. Honorable mention to the Steelers' Keith Gary for his attempt to decapitate Ken Anderson.
LB: Dan Bunz: On third and goal in Super Bowl XVI, Charles Alexander was isolated on 49ers LB Dan Bunz in the flat. Instead of Alexander scoring with the clear mismatch, he cut his route short of the end zone and Bunz stonewalled him short of the end zone. Honorable mention Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds made the stop of Pete Johnson on fourth down to preserve the Niners victory.
DB: Thom Darden: Darden had only three of his 45 career interceptions against the Bengals during his nine year NFL career, but he will always be remembered for knocking out Pat McInally with a vicious hit in 1980.
P: Dan Pastorini: Few might remember that Pastorini also served as the Oilers' main punter besides being their starting quarterback. Pastorini has the second longest punt ever against the Bengals at 74 yards. He made the list though simply because he was a whiny jerk all during his career and was a divisional rival.
K: Matt Stover: It seems like Stover kicked for the Browns and Ravens for the duration of the Bengals' existence as a franchise. Stover is tied for the record for most field goals in a game against the Bengals with five. Stover did it twice, however, once as a Cleveland Brown and again as a Baltimore Raven. That counts for something.
There you have it, the all-time most despised opponents in Bengals' history. Did we leave anyone out? Let us know.
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