Bengals 101 has pored over the numbers and put together our all decade teams for the Cincinnati Bengals. In many cases, the choices were obvious. In others it involved some difficult comparisons. Since the Bengals only had two seasons under their belt before the 1970s, we chose to start there with the first full decade of the franchise's existence.
For the decade, the Bengals amassed a 74-70 record and appeared in the playoffs three times. As we've noted before, had the Bengals not shared a division with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 1970s may have been much kinder to the franchise. Some of the greatest players ever to don the orange and black played during this era. Here are our choices for the Cincinnati Bengals All-1970s team:
QB Ken Anderson: A no-brainer here. Anderson came out of tiny Augustana College and took to Bill Walsh's offense like a fish to water. He led the NFL in passing yards, yards per attempt and QB rating in 1974 and 1975. He was the team's quarterback for most of the decade and well into the 1980s after taking over for Virgil Carter in 1973. That Anderson isn't enshrined in Canton is a crime.
RB Boobie Clark: Clark gets the nod here over Lenvil Elliot and Essex Johnson by virtue of his ability to find the end zone. Clark scored 25 rushing touchdowns between 1973 and 1978. He led the team in rushing in 1975 and 1976. And he had a cool fan club to which this writer belonged.
RB Pete Johnson: Johnson's career spanned both the '70s and '80s, but his impact in the prior decade stands out. After serving as Woody Hayes' workhorse at Ohio State, Johnson came to the Bengals and led the team in rushing from 1977 to 1983. He scored 25 of his 76 career touchdowns from 1977 to 1979.
WR Isaac Curtis: Another obvious choice, Curtis led the Bengals in receiving yards for five years in the decade. He amassed 45 touchdown catches during the decade as he and Ken Anderson became one of the NFL's most lethal quarterback/receiver tandems.
WR Chip Myers: The late Chip Myers get the second spot on our team over Charlie Joiner, who played only a pair of seasons for the Bengals. Myers led the team in receiving twice and made the Pro Bowl in 1972.
TE Bob Trumpy: How could it be anyone else? Trumpy led the team in receiving in 1971 and appeared in two of his four career Pro Bowls in the 1970s. Trumpy caught 23 touchdowns during the decade.
OT: Vern Holland and Rufus Mayes: Holland started 119 games during the 70s and Rufus Mayes 110. They provided a steady pair of bookends that had some major battles against some dominant defenses in the AFC Central.
OG: Dave Lapham and Howard Fest: Lapham, perhaps the most beloved Bengal of all-time and now long-time color analyst on radio, was Mr. Versatility along the offensive line. He played in 140 games during the decade for Cincinnati. Fest played 82 games for Cincinnati before being picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1976 expansion draft.
DT: Ron Carpenter and Ken Johnson: Both enjoyed longevity with the Bengals at a position where that's not the norm. Carpenter played seven seasons for the Bengals while Johnson played in 79 games over seven seasons.
DE: Sherman White and Gary Burley: This pair provided speed and pass rushing ability for the Bengals during the 70s. Unfortunately, sacks weren't kept as an NFL stat until 1982.
LB: The Bengals had a wealth of talent among their linebackers during the decade, but three stand out: Bill Bergey, Jim LeClair and Bo Harris.
Bergey played his first five years with the Bengals before being dealt to Philadelphia. While in Cincinnati, Bergey was one of the league's best middle linebackers. He had nine interceptions and five fumble recoveries.
Jim LeClair played 12 seasons in Cincinnati, mostly in the 1970s. He had 10 picks and 10 fumble recoveries during his career and made the 1976 Pro Bowl.
Bo Harris recorded 8 seasons as a Bengal with seven picks and five fumble recoveries.
S Tommy Casanova and Marvin Cobb: Casanova was the original big hitter in the Bengals' secondary. He could cover fairly well, too, recording 17 picks in his 71 games as a Bengal, returning two for touchdowns. Casanova was also an accomplished return man. He was a three time Pro Bowler as a Bengal.
Marvin Cobb played five years in the Bengals secondary and had 13 interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
CB Ken Riley and Lemar Parrish: Riley and Parrish are perhaps the most underrated duo in NFL history. No two Bengals have suffered more from playing in Pittsburgh's shadow than these two. Riley played 15 seasons, all in Cincinnati, had 65 interceptions (5 for touchdowns) and 18 fumble recoveries. Amazingly, "The Rattler" was never named to a Pro Bowl.
Parrish played eight seasons in Cincinnati before moving to Washington. He was a Pro Bowler six times in that span. He was lethally quick, the Deion Sanders of his day. Parrish scored 12 touchdowns as a defensive back and return specialist during his eight years in Cincinnati. Despite all those accomplishments, he's never been a Hall of Fame finalist.
There's your Cincinnati Bengals team of the 1970s. Tell us where you think we went wrong. Did we miss somebody? Be sure to stay with Bengals 101 as we name our all-decade teams for the 80s, 90s, and 2000s over the next few weeks.
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