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Anderson’s Canton Express

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 19, 2011 – 5:24 pm

The Canton Express is loading up for Ken Anderson’s bid for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Two links this week on media giant ProFootballTalk.com, an endorsement from noted quarterback quartermaster Sam Wyche, and another eye-catching historical chart have added buzz to the movement. If 50 is the new 30, then Anderson is finding out 62 is the new 42, which is the age he first became Hall eligible. Now in his 26th season of retirement, he’s in his first year on the senior ballot that goes to the nine members of the Hall’s senior committee in June.

Anderson figures to be one of 15 finalists to be discussed in Canton in August. Five senior committee members, in consultation with two current Hall of Famers, decide on two candidates that will be among the 17 finalists for the 2012 vote the day before the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News, an influential senior committee member, has indicated he believes Anderson deserves to be discussed in that final meeting one of these years.

The drumbeat that Anderson’s teammates have begun with the aid of Cincinnati realtor David Kubicki is starting to get some legs. The ProFootballReference.com career approximate value leaders chart that Kubicki dug up has Anderson as the only Hall-eligible player in the top 50 all-time not in Canton.

“The fact the chart has Chuck Bednarik as the greatest Eagle and Anthony Muñoz as the greatest Bengal shows to me that it’s legit,” says Kerry Byrne, another noted numbers-cruncher that writes for coldhardfootballfacts.com. “The fact that it values a center-linebacker like Bednarik and a left tackle like Muñoz shows that it’s taking in the important aspects of the game.”

Muñoz is ranked 17th, a spot ahead of quarterback Steve Young and a spot behind Derrick Brooks and John Elway on a list that attempts to bridge the eras of the game. Anderson, who has a higher career passer rating than Elway and a higher postseason completion percentage than Young, is logged in at No. 39 with Gino Marchetti, Randy White and Bruce Matthews. Which is ahead of Warren Moon (T44) and Tom Brady (T52).

But then with Byrne, you’re preaching to the choir. He finished his three-part series on the injustice of Anderson not being in the Hall this week and one of his stories focused on his role as a pioneer in taking Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense from the blackboard of the ’70s to a 21st century staple.

“There’s no question that Kenny Anderson withstood the test of time in that offense and played as well in it as anybody and passed it on,” former Bengals head coach Sam Wyche said Thursday. “He was not just a good player, he was a great player, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame like a Joe Montana.”

Wyche coached them both and was Walsh’s quarterbacks coach that first year in San Francisco in 1979, when he urged Walsh to draft Montana. Walsh, Paul Brown’s quarterbacks coach, brought his Anderson Bengals tapes to the Bay Area to help install an offense that would take Montana and Walsh to the Hall of Fame.

“Bill was not only teaching the quarterbacks with the training tape, but he was teaching the offense,” Wyche said. “You want to teach using good plays. And Kenny made a lot of good plays.”

Wyche remembers Anderson being particularly adept with the quick five-step drop, meshing quickness with the ability to turn his body and throw with what Wyche called efficient mechanics.

“Kenny just had a real good feel for that,” Wyche said.

Wyche had been Anderson’s head coach for three seasons when he retired after the 1986 season. He was his teammate for not quite as long. About a week before the 1971 draft, Wyche, the Bengals backup quarterback, and wife Jane were invited to dinner by Walsh and his wife. During the conversation, Walsh told Wyche not to jump to conclusions but that the Bengals planned to draft a quarterback named Anderson they felt would drop into the third or fourth round because he was from a small college in Illinois.

They did and shortly after the minicamp, Wyche was traded to the Redskins.

“You only had to see him practice for a few minutes to know he was going to be good,” Wyche said. “You never how good, but you could see he was going to be a good NFL quarterback.”

Good enough that he’s got people climbing aboard his Canton Express.


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