Ken Anderson (quarterback)
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Ken Anderson Quarterback

Ken Anderson
No. 14
Personal information
Born: (1949-02-15) February 15, 1949 (age 71)
Batavia, Illinois
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:212 lb (96 kg)
Career information
High school:Batavia (IL)
College:Augustana College (Illinois)
NFL Draft:1971 / Round: 3 / Pick: 67
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
As player
As assistant coach
Career NFL statistics
Passing yards:32,838
Passer rating:81.9
Completion percentage:59.3
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Kenneth Allan Anderson (born February 15, 1949) is a former American football quarterback who spent his entire professional career playing for the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League (NFL) and later returned as a position coach.

After playing college football for Augustana College, Anderson was selected in the 3rd round of the 1971 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Over the course of his 16-season NFL career, Anderson led the league in passer rating four times, completion percentage three times and passing yards twice.[1][2][3] In 1981, he was awarded AP NFL Most Valuable Player and AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year, a season in which he led the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance. In 1982, Anderson set an NFL record for completion percentage of 70.6%--a record he held for nearly 30 years until it was broken by Drew Brees in 2009.[4]

As of the end of the 2018 NFL season, Anderson owns many of the Cincinnati Bengals franchise passing records, including completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns and interceptions.[5]

After his professional playing career, Anderson served as a radio broadcaster for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1987--1993. From 1993--2002 he served as the Bengals' quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Anderson would later become the quarterbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars (2003--2006) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2007--2009), before retiring from football in 2010.

Anderson has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame twice, and is often regarded as one of the best players not in the Hall of Fame.[6][7][8][9]

Early life

Anderson was born in Batavia, Illinois. Growing up in Batavia, Anderson's backyard met up with his friend, Dan Issel's back yard. Anderson's father was a janitor at Batavia High School, and the Issel property on Harrison Street backed onto that of the Andersons' on Republic Road.[10] Growing up together, Issel and Anderson rode in Issel's red Ford convertible and frequented the Twin Elms restaurant. Later, Anderson and Issel would co-own a 782 farm in Kentucky.[10] Another neighbor and teammate, Byron Von Hoff, played basketball and other sports at Batavia with Anderson and Issel. Issel became a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame basketball player with the Kentucky Colonels and Denver Nuggets.[11] Von Hoff was the 21st pick of the New York Mets in the 1966 Amateur Baseball draft and pitched successfully in the minor leagues before an injury ended his career.[12][13] Another friend and teammate at Batavia was future NBA announcer Craig Sager.[14][10]

Professional career

After playing for and graduating from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, he was selected 67th overall in the 1971 NFL Draft by the Bengals and earned the starting quarterback job in 1972. He became one of the most accurate short-range passers in the league, and was extremely effective at rushing the ball for a quarterback.

With Bill Walsh as his quarterbacks coach, Anderson is one of the first quarterbacks to run what would become known as the "West Coast Offense."[15] One of the finest performances of his early career was in a Monday Night Football game against the Buffalo Bills in November 1975; Anderson passed for a franchise record 447 yards while the Bengals racked up a franchise record 553 offensive yards in a It was the Bengals' first ever win in a Monday night game.

Anderson's best season was in 1981, although it started out very badly for him. In the Bengals opening game against the Seattle Seahawks, Anderson was intercepted twice in the first half and the Seahawks built up a 21-0 first quarter lead. In the second half, with the Bengals trailing 21-10, Cincinnati coach Forrest Gregg benched Anderson and brought in third-string quarterback Turk Schonert (second-string quarterback Jack Thompson was injured at the time). With Schonert in command of the offense, the Bengals stormed back and won the game Gregg considered starting Schonert or Thompson for the next game against the New York Jets, but decided to stick with Anderson after an impassioned discussion the two had during the week leading up to the game. Anderson took advantage of his second chance by throwing for 246 yards and two touchdowns, and the Bengals won the game 31-30.

By the time the season ended, Anderson had completed 62.6% of his passes for 3,754 yards and 29 touchdowns, with only 10 interceptions, leading the NFL with a career-high 98.4 passer rating.[17] He also gained another 320 yards and one touchdown on the ground. This performance earned him both the Associated Press and Professional Football Writers of America NFL Most Valuable Player Awards and the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Anderson then led the Bengals to their first ever playoff victory over the Buffalo Bills, as he led Cincinnati to a 27-7 win in the AFC championship game (which later became known as the Freezer Bowl) over the San Diego Chargers, earning a trip to the first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

The Bengals lost Super Bowl XVI 26-21 to the San Francisco 49ers, but Anderson had a solid performance, especially in the second half, despite his team trailing at the end of the first half. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions, and gained 14 rushing yards and a touchdown on five rushing attempts. At the time, his 25 completions and 73.5% completion percentage were both Super Bowl records.

The following season, Anderson set an NFL record by completing 70.6% of his passes, but his team lost in the first round of the playoffs at Riverfront Stadium to the New York Jets. Anderson continued as the Bengals starting quarterback for the next two seasons, but in both seasons he threw more interceptions than touchdowns, was injured for stretches, and the Bengals failed to make the playoffs. In 1985, he was replaced by Boomer Esiason for the third game of the season, a home contest against the Chargers. From this point on, Anderson backed up Esiason before retiring after the 1986 season.

In his 16 NFL seasons, Anderson completed 2,654 of 4,475 passes (59.3%) for 32,838 yards and 197 touchdowns and 160 interceptions and also gained 2,220 rushing yards and scored 20 rushing touchdowns on 397 carries.[17] His completions, passing yards, and touchdown passes are all Bengals records. His 2,220 rushing yards are the most ever by a Bengals quarterback. Anderson led the NFL in quarterback rating four times during his career (1974, 1975, 1981, and 1982) and led the league in passing yards twice (1974, 1975). He was selected to four Pro Bowls (1975-76 & 1981-82). Anderson was voted All-Pro in 1981, 2nd Team All-Pro in 1975, and 2nd Team All-AFC in 1974 and 1982.


At the time of Anderson's retirement following the 1986 season, he held NFL records for consecutive pass completions (20), completion percentage for a single game (20 of 22, 90.9%, vs. Pittsburgh in 1974) and completion percentage for a season (70.6% in 1982), as well as the Super Bowl records for completion percentage (73.5%) (since broken by Phil Simms) and completions (25; Tom Brady holds the current record with 43). While Anderson's record for regular season completion percentage happened in a strike-shortened 9-game season, the previous record he surpassed had been set by Sammy Baugh in a 10-game season (1945), in which Baugh threw 125 fewer passes then Anderson did in 1982. Furthermore, Anderson was ranked 6th all-time for passing yards in a career at the time of his retirement. Anderson's record for completion percentage in a season stood for 27 years after his retirement (broken by Drew Brees in 2009). He led the NFL in passing yards and completions twice, and lead the league in fewest interceptions per pass attempt 3 times. He ranks eleventh in NFL history for postseason passer rating, 93.5.[18]

Coaching career

After serving as a color analyst for the Bengals' radio broadcasts from 1987-1992, Anderson re-joined the team in 1993 as their quarterbacks coach, a position he held until 1996. He then served as the team's offensive coordinator from 1996 to 2000, and again as the team's quarterbacks coach in 2001 and 2002. In 2003, he became a wide receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was their quarterbacks coach. He was fired after the 2006 season, along with offensive coordinator Carl Smith and special teams coach Pete Rodriguez, by Jack Del Rio. In January 2007, new Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hired Anderson as his quarterbacks coach under offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. On January 5, 2010, Tomlin announced that Anderson would be retiring, effective immediately.[19][20] Anderson earned a Super Bowl ring when the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII.


  • Anderson was inducted into the Augustana College Vikings Hall of Fame in 2003.[21]
  • In 2013, Augustana College dedicated the Kenny Anderson Academic All-America Club building as part of the Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex.[22][23]
  • Although not officially retired by the Bengals, Anderson's number 14 had been held in reserve and not assigned to any player by the team until Anderson started coaching for division rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The holding of number 14 was most evident in 1998, when the Bengals signed Neil O'Donnell, who wore number 14 during most of his career. O'Donnell wore number 12 during his one-year stay in Cincinnati, the only time in his NFL career he did not wear number 14. With Anderson's approval, Andy Dalton has worn number 14 for the Bengals since being drafted in 2011.
  • He has been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame several times, and on two occasions was among the 15 finalists for enshrinement (1996 and 1998). In 2011, the Professional Football Researchers Association named Anderson to the PFRA Hall of Very Good Class of 2011.[24]
  • In 2008, NFL Network selected Anderson as No. 10 on their list of top 10 players who had not been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[7]

NFL career statistics

Led the league
Bold Career high
Regular season[17] Passing
Year Team GP Cmp Att Pct Yds TD Int Lng Y/A Rate
1971 CIN 11 72 131 55.0 777 5 4 44 5.9 72.6
1972 CIN 13 171 301 56.8 1,918 7 7 65 6.4 74.0
1973 CIN 14 179 329 54.4 2,428 18 12 78 7.4 81.2
1974 CIN 13 213 328 64.9 2,667 18 10 77 8.1 95.7
1975 CIN 13 228 377 60.5 3,169 21 11 55 8.4 93.9
1976 CIN 14 179 338 53.0 2,367 19 14 85 7.0 76.9
1977 CIN 14 166 323 51.4 2,145 11 11 94 6.6 69.7
1978 CIN 12 173 319 54.2 2,219 10 22 57 7.0 58.0
1979 CIN 15 189 339 55.8 2,340 16 10 73 6.9 80.7
1980 CIN 13 166 275 60.4 1778 6 13 67 6.5 66.9
1981 CIN 16 300 479 62.6 3,754 29 10 74 7.8 98.4
1982 CIN 9 218 309 70.6 2,495 12 9 56 8.1 95.3
1983 CIN 13 198 297 66.7 2,333 12 13 80 7.9 85.6
1984 CIN 11 175 275 63.6 2,107 10 12 80 7.7 81.0
1985 CIN 3 16 32 50.0 170 2 0 44 5.3 86.7
1986 CIN 8 11 23 47.8 171 1 2 43 7.4 51.2
Career 192 2,654 4,475 59.3 32,838 197 160 94 7.3 81.9

Cincinnati Bengals franchise records

As of 2019's NFL off-season, Anderson holds at least 29 Bengals franchise records, including:

  • Completions: game (40 on 1982-12-20 @SDG), playoffs (110), playoff season (53 in 1981)
  • Pass Attempts: career (4,475), playoffs (166), playoff season (77 in 1981)
  • Passing Yards: career (32,838), playoffs (1,321), playoff season (653 in 1981), playoff game (354 on 1983-01-09 NYJ)
  • Passing TDs: playoffs (9), playoff season (5 in 1981), playoff game (2 on 1983-01-09 NYJ; with Boomer Esiason)
  • Intercepted: career (160), season (22 in 1978; with Boomer Esiason, Jon Kitna), playoffs (6), playoff season (3 in 1982; with Boomer Esiason, Andy Dalton), playoff game (3 on 1983-01-09 NYJ, with Andy Dalton)
  • Passer Rating: playoffs (93.5)
  • Sacked: career (398), season (46 in 1979, with Andy Dalton), playoff game (5 on 1982-01-24 N SFO, with Boomer Esiason)
  • Yds/Pass Att: playoffs (7.96), playoff season (10.11 in 1982), playoff game (10.11 on 1983-01-09 NYJ)
  • Pass Yds/Game: season (277.2 in 1982), playoffs (220.2), playoff season (354 in 1982)
  • 300+ yard passing games: playoffs (2)


  1. ^ "NFL Passer Rating Year-By-Year Leaders". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ "NFL Pass Completion % Year-by-Year Leaders". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ "NFL Passing Yards Year-by-Year Leaders". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ Martel, Brett (December 31, 2009). "Like Williams, Brees prefers to play for record". Associated Press in Seattle Times. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ "Cincinnati Bengals Career Passing Leaders". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ Byrne, Kerry (May 10, 2011). "Injustice in Canton: the Case for Ken Anderson". Cold Hard Football Facts. Pigskin Media Inc. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ a b "NFL Films: Top 10 players not in the Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on December 6, 2011.
  8. ^ Redemann, Joe (February 2, 2018). "10 Best NFL Players Not in the Hall of Fame". numberFire, Inc. Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ Clemens, Jay (October 20, 2016). "Top 20 eligible NFL greats who aren't in the Hall of Fame". Fox Sports Interactive Media, LLC. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Looney, Douglas S. "King Of The Rocky Mountains". Vault.
  11. ^ G, Linda (July 5, 2017). "Henricksen: Batavia basketball, community to celebrate the life of its native son, Craig Sager".
  12. ^ "Byron Von Hoff - BR Bullpen".
  13. ^ " - Connecting People Through News".
  14. ^ "Q&A with Craig Sager - West Suburban Living - September 2016 - Elmhurst, IL".
  15. ^ "Walsh's legacy begins with West Coast offense". San Jose Mercury News. August 6, 2007.
  16. ^ "Anderson passes up O.J., Bills". Milwaukee Journal. November 18, 1975. p. 9, part 2.
  17. ^ a b c "Ken Anderson Stats". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ "NFL Passer Rating Career Playoffs Leaders".
  19. ^ Dulac, Gerry (January 30, 2007). "Tomlin's coaching staff is complete". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  20. ^ "Steelers QB coach Ken Anderson retires". Archived from the original on January 20, 2010.
  21. ^ "Ken Anderson (2003) - Tribe of Vikings Hall of Fame". Augustana College Athletics.
  22. ^, Tom Johnston. "Anderson humbled at Augustana dedication". Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.
  23. ^ "Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex". Augustana College Athletics.
  24. ^ "Hall of Very Good Class of 2011". Archived from the original on September 2, 2018. Retrieved 2016.

External links

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