Isaac Curtis
No. 85     
Wide receiver
Personal information
Date of birth: (1950-10-20) October 20, 1950 (age 69)
Place of birth: Santa Ana, California
Career information
College: California
San Diego State
NFL Draft: 1973 / Round: 1 / Pick: 15
Debuted in 1973 for the [[{{{debutteam}}}]]
Last played in 1984 for the [[{{{finalteam}}}]]
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • Pro Bowl selection (1973, 1974, 1975, 1976)
Receptions     416
Receiving yards     7,101
Touchdowns     53
Stats at

Isaac Fisher Curtis (born October 20, 1950 in Santa Ana, California) is a former professional American football wide receiver who played his entire National Football League career with the Cincinnati Bengals (1973–1984).

College careerEdit

Curtis attended University of California, Berkeley for three years. He excelled as a member of Cal's track team, but was running back and kick returner for the football team. After he finished his junior season, Curtis transferred to San Diego State University because of the controversy surrounding the probation of Cal's football team. He excelled as a slot wide receiver during his senior season under the famed Aztecs coach Don Coryell, catching 44 passes for 832 yards and 7 touchdowns.


Entering the 1973 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals needed a wide receiver who had speed to spread the field and opposing defenses for their franchise quarterback Ken Anderson. Isaac Curtis had world-class speed, running a 9.30 seconds in the 100-yard dash as a member of Cal's track team, making him faster than Jesse Owens, who ran it in 9.40 seconds. Given all the variables, that would indicate his 40-yard dash time would be around a 4.17, which meant he would easily be one of the most athletic people to ever wear an NFL uniform. Although Curtis had played only one year at wide receiver, Paul Brown decided to take a chance on him and drafted Curtis in the first round (15th overall selection). Later on in his career Paul Brown would say that what he liked the most about Isaac Curtis was not so much his athleticism but his always quietly confident personality, saying "He's a very gentle jumping up and down, spiking it, or trash talking".

Professional careerEdit

Isaac Curtis made the starting lineup as a rookie and had a superb season, recording 45 receptions for 843 yards and 9 touchdowns, an average of 18.7 yards per catch. Curtis continued to be a major contributor for the Bengals until his retirement after the 1984 season.

Although he never reached the 1,000 receiving yards milestone during a season, he was known as a superb clutch player and excelled at gaining extra yards after making a catch. In 1974 and 1975, he averaged more than 21.1 yards per reception. He was a Pro Bowl selection four times (1973–1976) and was selected 2nd Team All-Pro for three consecutive seasons (1974–1976). Curtis assisted the Bengals to a Super Bowl appearance in the 1981 season and had a solid performance in Super Bowl XVI, catching 3 passes for 42 yards. Years after his retirement his quarterback for his career Ken Anderson said that Isaac Curtis was "The Jerry Rice before Jerry Rice".

In his 12 NFL seasons, Curtis recorded 416 receptions for 7,101 yards and 53 touchdowns, while also gaining 76 rushing yards on 25 carries. His 17.1 yards per catch average is a Bengals record and his 7,101 receiving yards was a franchise record until broken by Chad Ochocinco on September 16, 2007. His 53 touchdown receptions were a Bengals record until surpassed by Carl Pickens in the late 1990s.

The Isaac Curtis ruleEdit

"The Isaac Curtis rule" should not be confused with the "Mel Blount rule", which was a more stricter revising of "The Isaac Curtis Rule". Because Isaac Curtis had world-class speed, there weren't defensive backs that could keep up with Curtis and all teams would double and sometimes even triple cover him. In 1973 in his first year, the Bengals won the Central Division and faced the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Miami Dolphins. Don Shula's defensive backs didn't have the speed to cover Curtis and decided that he would have them push, bump, and hold him down the field. After that game, the NFL defenses including the Steelers started doing the same thing to stop Isaac Curtis. Paul Brown wanted the rule changed, telling the NFL Competition Committee "What good is it for us to have performers, if they aren't allowed to perform."

"The Isaac Curtis Rule": A defender is allowed to block a receiver within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. After the initial 5 yards, any contact will be considered holding, which is a 5-yard penalty and an automatic first down.

After footballEdit

Curtis is a sales executive for Winegardner and Hammons, Inc., a hotel management company in the Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash. He has remained good friends with former teammate Louis Breeden.

External linksEdit

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