For the defensive lineman, see Ken Anderson (defensive lineman).
Ken Anderson
No. 14     
Personal information
Date of birth: (1949-02-15) February 15, 1949 (age 71)
Place of birth: Batavia, Illinois
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Weight: 212 lb (96 kg)
Career information
College: Augustana
NFL Draft: 1971 / Round: 3 / Pick: 67
Debuted in 1971 for the Cincinnati Bengals
Last played in 1986 for the Cincinnati Bengals
Career history
 As player:
 As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 1986
TD-INT     197-160
Yards     32,838
QB Rating     81.9
Stats at

Kenneth Allan "Ken" 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 and later returned as a position coach. He was the quarterbacks coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2007 through the 2009 season, when he retired from coaching.


Early lifeEdit

Ken Anderson was born on February 15, 1949 to Erik Anderson and Jean Anderson in Batavia, Illinois the oldest city in Kane County, Illinois. Erik Anderson was a Swedish speaking janitor and his mother Jean was American. So growing up Ken Anderson was multilingual speaking both in Swedish and English. During his youth, Anderson took an interest in baseball and basketball, in addition to football—"Whatever was in season," as Anderson says. Anderson also excelled in school especially Mathematics. Ken Anderson's favorite sport was basketball as a youth. He had a hoop in his driveway and also played at the house of neighbor and childhood friend Dan Issel.

College careerEdit

When Ken Anderson was a senior at Batavia High School in Batavia, Illinois, he was offered a basketball scholarship to Augustana College (Illinois) and given a grant for exceptionally gifted children in mathematics but while a senior at Batavia High School he wrote a letter to then-Augustana football coach Ralph Starenko asking if he "could try out for football". Starenko said yes and the rest is history. While at Augustana Anderson enjoyed a stellar two-sport career, excelling in both football and basketball. Anderson soon outgrew his Division III level competition. He set every passing record they had at Augustana. He was also a career 1,000 point scorer in basketball.


Going to a Division III school and being from a humble background Ken Anderson never thought he would go on to a professional football career but during his senior year at Augustana Mike Brown and Pete Brown, sons of Paul Brown, happened to hear word of Ken Anderson. When they told Paul Brown he decided to send then assistant and quarterback coach Bill Walsh to scout him. In the fall of 1970 Walsh arrived to scout Anderson in a game against Carthage College. Ken Anderson ran a 4.7, had an 70 plus yard arm and was exceptionally intelligent. While all were impressive numbers that was not what impressed Bill Walsh. Bill Walsh had this to say years after scouting Ken Anderson. "There wasn't any doubt who Kenny was. He was bigger than anybody on the field. But what impressed me most was that early in the game Kenny got a major hip pointer and could barely walk. At that level they generally cart the guy off. But Kenny came back and played the whole game. That convinced me he could play in the NFL." Paul Brown decided to draft him after Bill Walsh came back in glowing terms about Anderson. He was drafted 67th overall in the 1971 NFL Draft by the Bengals.



Being a 'sprint-out' quarterback in college, Anderson was not accustomed to the drop back to pass style of the NFL. In the off-season Walsh worked endlessly with his new quarterback. Anderson said about his rookie year, "basically, I knew nothing. There were films, lectures and endless drills on fundamentals". Because of Walsh, Anderson is considered to be one of the first quarterbacks to run what would become known as the "West Coast Offense."[1] In his rookie year the Bengals planned to let Anderson be the back-up to the starting signal caller, Virgil Carter However, a week three injury to Carter during a game against the Green Bay Packers would force Anderson into the starting role. Anderson also started in weeks 4, 5, 6, 7 and 11, going 1-4. Although he only won one game, the Bengals coaches were impressed with Anderson's play. Anderson threw for 777 yards, five touchdowns, four interceptions and had a passer rating of 72.6 for the 1971 season.


The Bengals drafted Tommy Casanova (free safety) and Jim LeClair (linebacker) to help the defense. Paul Brown was so pleased with the performance of Anderson during the offseason and preseason that he gave him the starting job. Although Virgil Carter did share time with Anderson at times throughout the year. Ken Anderson had a solid first start completing 10 of 14 for 102 yards, one touchdown, and a passer rating of 108.2 against the New England Patriots winning 31-7. In week five the Bengals had a chance to take first place in the division with a win against the Kansas City Chiefs. At halftime the game was even at 3-3. Len Dawson put the Chiefs ahead with a 14 yard strike to Otis Taylor to give them a 10-3 lead. Anderson quickly struck back, passing to Essex Johnson for a 65 yard touchdown making the game 10-10. Anderson would throw a seven yard pitch to Steve Thomas in the fourth that would put Cincinnati ahead for good at 17-13. Ken Anderson finished the game completing 14 of 25 for 182 yards, two touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 105.7 winning the game 23-16, and giving the Bengals a 4-1 record and first place in the division. However, Anderson struggled in the middle of the season and the Bengals ended the year with a 8-6 record. Anderson finished his first year as starter throwing for 1,918 yards, seven touchdowns, seven interceptions and a quarterback rating of 74. After the year it was obvious the Bengals were in need of a deep ball threat.


The Bengals, needing a fast wide receiver, drafted Isaac Curtis in the 1973 NFL Draft. He made the starting lineup as a rookie, and had an excellent season as Walsh designed the offense around him and Anderson. Anderson said before the seaon began "I just want to show Cincinnati fans I'm their quarterback". This year marked Anderson's rise to becoming one of the most accurate passers in the league, and an extremely effective runner as well. After eight games the Bengals were 4-4 and in third place in the AFC Central along with being three games out of first place; and had injuries to second wide receiver Charlie Joiner with a broken collarbone on the first play of week four against the Cleveland Browns; and their third wide receiver Chip Myers with a hamstring injury in the same game. Most people were saying the Bengals were out of the picture but the Bengals won their next game putting them at 5-4. Anderson then in the next five games passed for 836 yards, 11 touchdowns, no interceptions, leading the Bengals to a 10-4 record in his second year as starter. The Bengals won the division over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Anderson finished the season throwing for 2,428 yards, 18 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 81.2. All were Bengal records at the time and Anderson was statistically one of the best quarterbacks that year. Although Anderson had been one of the main reasons for the Bengals' rise to the top of the division, the national media had a negative view of Anderson, and would continue to do so for much of the remainder of his career. Paul Brown said of the national view of Anderson, "you know, they've been saying from the start that Kenny Anderson didn't have what it takes to be a quarterback and I have no idea why". "The only thing he cares about is the team ... and winning" praised Brown. Anderson had this to say about the media in 1973, "statistics or individual things mean nothing to me". Anderson's first playoff game was against the eventual Super Bowl Champions Miami Dolphins. The Bengals lost 34-16. The Dolphins' secondary did not have the speed to cover Curtis, and had Don Shula push, bump and hold him. After the game other 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".


Anderson became one of the premier passers in the league. He led the league in six different passing categories. Anderson wasted no time in getting off to a fast start as in week one against the Cleveland Browns he threw for 179 yards, two touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 129.3 in a 33-7 victory. Heading into week seven the Bengals record was 4-2. In week seven facing the Houston Oilers Anderson threw for a then franchise record 352 yards while also adding three touchdowns and an interception but the Bengals would lose 21-34. Next week against the Baltimore Colts Ken Anderson passed for three touchdowns in a 24-14 victory completing 17 of 21 passes, including all eight of his second-half attempts, and gained 62 yards on the ground. Anderson finished the game with a perfect passer rating of 158.3, which included 77 and 46 yard bombs to Isaac Curtis. The following week against the Pittsburgh Steelers Anderson had arguably the finest performance of any Bengals quarterback ever. He would show the toughness Bill Walsh saw in him at Augustana. Coming into the game Cincinnati's record was 5-3 and they were a game and a half out of first place in the division. Anderson completed his first eight passes giving him 16 straight completions over two games, then an NFL record. During the beginning of the third quarter Ken Anderson was running out of bounds on a play and was about three yards out of bounds when Glen Edwards threw a vicious shoulder in the head of Anderson. Glen Edwards was ejected from the game. Anderson was motionless for a couple of seconds and for about the first three minutes after getting up could only hear a loud buzzing noise. Al DeRogatis the announcer said it was a "cheap shot". Despite getting a concussion and a damaged vertebrae on the play, Anderson would come in on Cincinnati's next possession. He dissected the Steel Curtain defense with the precision of a skilled surgeon. Anderson also made a great defensive play when with 4:04 left in the game Mike Wagner picked up a fumble on the Steeler nine and raced toward the goal line for what would have been the game tying touchdown. Anderson, who had assumed the play was whistled dead, suddenly took off in pursuit an made up over 25 yards to catch Wagner and knock him out of bounds on the Cincinnati 22 yard line. Pittsburgh did not score as Terry Bradshaw was sacked as time expired giving the Bengals the win 17-10. Anderson completed 20 of 22 (90.9 percent) of his passes during the game, giving him the NFL record for highest completion percentage in a single game, which was not broken until 2009 by Kurt Warner. Anderson played the next four games but during the fourth game he received a shot in his back that further hurt his damaged vertebrae and would force him to miss the last game of the season. The Bengals would go 7-7 on the season. Anderson passed for 2,667 yards, 18 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a passer rating of 95.7, while getting sacked 36 times and rushing for 314 yards. He also completed 64.9 percent of his passes which at the time was the highest mark since Sammy Baugh. Cincinnati fans voted Ken Anderson MVP of the team and he won his first NFL passing title. Leading up to Super Bowl IX against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings the media asked the always humble Anderson for his thoughts since he was the last quarterback to beat the Steelers that year. "I would say 'Good Luck, Francis( Fran Tarkenton), quipped Anderson, "Terry Bradshaw has just been super and I think he will win it. We like to think we're the NFL's toughest conference, even though I didn't play well enough to get us to the playoffs this year".


Ken Anderson continued to put on a dazzling display of passing accuracy, winning his second NFL passing title despite the Bengals having one of the worst rushing attacks that year. He broke his own team record for passing yards in a year and passing touchdowns in a year. During the season Anderson had seven games with a passer rating over 100. He led the Bengals to a 6-0 record to begin the year. In week seven the Steelers knocked out Anderson for a possession and won 30-24 handing the Bengals their first loss of the year. One of the finest performances of his early career was in a 1975 Monday Night Football game against the Buffalo Bills. In the game, Anderson passed for a franchise record 447 yards while the Bengals racked up a franchise record 553 offensive yards on their way to a 33-21 win. After the game O. J. Simpson said that "Ken Anderson is unreal". It was the team's first ever win in a Monday night game. He led the Bengals to their best year ever at the time going 11-3 in the year but they finished second in the division to the 12-2 Pittsburgh Steelers. They did earn a playoff spot. Anderson finished the year with 3,169 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Bengals faced the Oakland Raiders in the playoffs. Going into the fourth quarter the Raiders had played three flawless quarters and had a 31-14 lead. The Raiders were at their 46 yard line when Ken Riley intercepted the ball and ran it back to Cincinnati's 22. Anderson threw a touchdown to Isaac Curtis two plays later. On the next drive Anderson threw another touchdown, making the score 31-28. The Raiders fumbled on their 37 and the Bengals recovered it with 4:17 left in the game. Then Ted Hendricks got his fourth sack of the day on Anderson and the Bengals lost the ball on downs and the Raiders ran the clock out. Anderson finished the game throwing for 201 yards, two touchdowns, and a passer rating of 110.3; and was sacked 5 times.


Following the 1975 season Paul Brown retired from being head coach but was still the owner. Bill "Tiger" Johnson was promoted as the new head coach. Hurt by the decision to hire Johnson instead of him, Bill Walsh left. Anderson lost his second receiver Charlie Joiner in a trade for Coy Bacon and his third receiver Chip Myers retired. Despite losing a lot of people around him Ken Anderson led the Bengals to a 10-4 record in the division but they did not make the playoffs. Anderson led the Bengals to three come-from-behind victories during the year and had solid numbers.


The following several years were difficult for Anderson, as he lost Bob Johnson, the only NFL center he had ever known, and his tight end Bob Trumpy to retirement. Other than Isaac Curtis the Bengals were also very thin at receiver even having the punter from Harvard Pat McInally play as a wide receiver, who was their third leading receiver in 1977. His offensive line went from being a solid group to one of the worst in the league as he took around 400 quarterback hits, including 128 sacks, in the four year span and as a result suffered a long string of injuries. In 1977 he suffered from badly damaged strained ligaments in his knee that he injured in a week 5 match up against the Steelers when he was hit low in the knee. In 1978 he broke his throwing hand in the preseason. In 1979 he reinjured the ligaments in his knee and also suffered from a bruised back, and during the season the fans actually cheered when Anderson sustained his injuries. Despite all the injuries Anderson missed only nine games in those four years. In 1979 the Bengals drafted Jack Thompson in the first round who the experts said was a cannot-miss prospect (all experts gave him a perfect grade) and Thompson started four games in 1980 but did not play well and would become a bust. Paul Brown noted that he was both "shocked and amazed" at how hard Anderson worked with Jack Thompson to try to prepare him to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, especially considering he was drafted to replace him in about 3–5 years down the line.


Cincinnati drafted former Titusville, FL Astronaut High School quarterback and University of Florida wide receiver "Cadillac" Cris Collinsworth who made the pro bowl as a rookie. The Bengals offensive line was one of the best in the league and were led by Anthony Munoz. Anderson's best season was in 1981, although it started out poorly for him. In the Bengals' opening game against the Seattle Seahawks, Anderson was intercepted three times in the first half and the Seahawks built up a 21-0 halftime lead. In the second half, 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 27-21. 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 football game 31-30. Heading into week 14 the Bengals' W-L record was 10-3 as getting ready to play the San Francisco 49ers; the media asked Bill Walsh about his former quarterback and he said, "Ken Anderson is the greatest quarterback in football today" and he also added that "Cincinnati is the team to beat in the NFL, there's no doubt about it". Although the Bengals lost their week 14 matchup against the 49ers be the score of 21-3, Bill Walsh's prediction about Cincinnati being the team to beat would come true as they would face off against each other in the Super Bowl. 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. 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 led the Bengals to their first ever football playoff victory over the Buffalo Bills throwing for 192 yards, one touchdown resulting in a 116.6 passer rating.

Heading into the conference championship three of the four quarterbacks had been coached by Bill Walsh: Joe Montana, Dan Fouts, and Ken Anderson. He was asked to talk about them all. Walsh said, "Joe Montana is more accurate than Fouts and more instinctive than Anderson. If he's not the best, he will be very soon. Of the three, Anderson had the best talent, but he played at Augustana. So we had to start from scratch. But he was so bright and so inquisitive, he was the league's leading passer in his third year. Anderson is the best pure forward passer the game has seen for years. He throws form a low, powerful base. He can throw off balance and still hit the receiver". Of Fouts, Walsh said, "he was the most dynamic of the three and he had great leadership."

Anderson led Cincinnati to a 27-7 blow out win in the AFC championship game (which later became known as the Freezer Bowl) over the veteran San Diego Chargers, earning a trip to the first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Going into the game Bill Walsh was asked about what he thought of Anderson's career. "Everything Kenny did was perfect, the way I see it". The Bengals lost Super Bowl XVI 26-21 against the San Francisco 49ers, but Anderson had a solid performance, especially in the second half, despite his team trailing 20-0 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.


The 1983 season is remembered most for what is considered as one of the most vicious facemask penalties in league history. It happened during a week six match up against the Steelers. Anderson was a perfect 5 of 5 for 60 yards to begin the day. But during their next possession in the first quarter Keith Gary grabbed Anderson by the facemask and neck area and slammed his head into the ground, ripping his facemask off in the process. Anderson was immediately rushed off the field in fear that his neck was broken, but Keith Gary was allowed to stay in the game. Former Bengals tight end Bob Trumpy said on his WLW radio show after the game, "I am appalled. In the years you've watched professional football, have you ever seen a more severe case of a facemask violation"? Coaches and other quarterbacks around the league said "it was terrifying". Paul Brown was furious about the hit, saying, "the commissioner knows about this one. It could have been another Darryl Stingley case". Keith Gary was fined for the hit. Art Rooney himself personally wrote to Anderson during his recuperation from the injury, wishing him a fast recovery and also assuring him that there was no maliciousness in the hit.


In 1985 he was replaced by Boomer Esiason for the third game of the season, a home contest against the San Diego Chargers. From this point on, Anderson backed up Esiason before retiring after the 1986 season. After the 1986 season Dr. Robert Heidt, the team's orthopedic consultant, told him he'd risk permanent, disabling damage by playing another year. In a emotional statement Anderson had this to say about retirement: "sixteen years is kind of beyond what I ever expected. Except for winning the final game, everything's gone well." He said his only regret was not winning the Super Bowl for one of the greatest cities.

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. He also gained 2,220 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 397 carries. He also averaged 5.6 yards a run, one of the highest marks in NFL history. 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, '75, '81 and '82) 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.

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. The number then returned to its previous reserve status and no Bengal wore it until May 2011 when number 9 Carson Palmer's successor Andy Dalton selected to be number 14. The father of Dalton's best friend's wife was a high school classmate of Anderson.


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 and Drew Brees each hold the current record with 32). Anderson was ranked 6th all-time for passing yards in a career at the time of his retirement. His record for completion percentage in a season stood for 27 years after his retirement (broken by Drew Brees in 2009).

As of 2005, Anderson was among the top 30 all-time leaders in pass attempts (24th), completions (18th), passing yards (21st) and passing touchdowns (28th). He led the NFL in passing yards and completions twice and led the league in fewest interceptions per pass attempt on three occasions. He ranks fourth in NFL history for postseason quarterback rating, 93.5. He also holds the record for highest career completion percentage in the postseason at 66.3%.

Throughout his career Anderson was noted for never taking credit for a win, instead giving all the praise to his teammates. Normally after he had a big game he praised his offensive line, despite statistically having one of the worst offensive lines in NFL history (he was sacked 398 times at the time of his retirement, the most of any quarterback). Anderson played in a west coast offense at a time when running a precision offense was difficult because of the rules that were in place at the time. From 1980 until his retirement under a more liberalized passing game Anderson completed 64.1% percent of his passes while the league average throughout the 1980s was 55.5% and would be the modern equivalent of a passer completing 68.4% percent of his passes on average.

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), but has not yet been voted in. In 2008, NFL Network selected Anderson as #10 on its list of top 10 players who have not yet made it into the hall of fame.[1]

In May, 2011, statistics site Cold Hard Football Facts presented a lengthy argument supporting Anderson's candidacy to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[2]

Coaching careerEdit

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. After that, he served as the team's offensive coordinator from 1996–2000, and then 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 let go after the 2006 8-8 season along with the offensive coordinator Carl Smith and special teams coach Pete Rodriguez by Jack Del Rio. In January, 2007, new Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hired Anderson as his quarterbacks coach. During Anderson's tenure with the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger passed for over 10,000 yards, 75 touchdowns and only 38 interceptions. In Ken's first season in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger was voted to the NFL Pro Bowl. In 2009 under Anderson's tutelage, Roethlisberger had the best season of his career statistically, completing 66.6% of his passes for 4,328 yards. On January 5, 2010, Mike Tomlin announced Anderson's retirement.[3][4] Anderson earned a Super Bowl ring when the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII.


Anderson has three children, a son Matt, and daughters Megan, and Molly. He is retired and he and his wife Cristy live in Hilton Head,SC. While attending Augustana, he received a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Mathematics and later attended Salmon P. Chase College of Law - Northern Kentucky University and received a law degree in 1981.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


Sporting positions
Preceded by
Mark Whipple
Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterbacks Coach
Succeeded by
Randy Fichtner
Preceded by
Bruce Coslet
Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Coordinators
Succeeded by
Bob Bratkowski
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Brian Sipe
AP NFL Most Valuable Player
1981 season
Succeeded by
Mark Moseley
Preceded by
Jim Plunkett
PFW NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award
Succeeded by
Lyle Alzado
Preceded by
Ron Jaworski
Bert Bell Award
Succeeded by
Joe Theismann
Preceded by
George Blanda
Walter Payton Man of the Year Award
Succeeded by
Franco Harris

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