COMMENTARY | On Tuesday, Pro Football Talk unveiled the Cincinnati Bengals' Mt. Rushmore. This monument consisted of four well-known faces of the Bengals franchise -- Ken Anderson, Anthony Munoz, Corey Dillon and Chad Johnson.
These four former players came as a bit of a surprise to many Bengals fans once PFT unveiled its decision. So, are these the four players that should actually grace this monument and represent the Bengals franchise permanently?
Let's face it, there are two players on this monument that are completely deserving of the honor. However, there are two others that had great careers with the franchise, but are far less deserving than other past components of the team.
Which players did PFT get right?
First, Munoz is absolutely the right man to put on this mountain. He is currently the lone Bengal that has been enshrined in Canton. Munoz was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection, and three-time offensive lineman of the year.
It can be argued that Munoz was the best offensive tackle to have ever played the game.
Munoz played with the Bengals for his entire NFL career which extended from 1980-92. His position on this monument is very, very well deserved.
The other player that PFT got right is Anderson -- the first quarterback to lead the Bengals to a Super Bowl.
Anderson played his entire career with the Bengals -- form 1971-86. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1981 NFL MVP.
He held many NFL records for the quarterback position -- consecutive pass completions (20), completion percentage for a game (90.9), completion percentage for a season (70.6) and was ranked 6th all-time in total passing yards by his retirement.
Anderson had a very decorated career and Bengals fans are still waiting for his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
That leaves two players that PFT got wrong -- Johnson and Dillon.
These players should not be on the monument for similar reasons. Both had great careers with a team that was struggling throughout their tenures with the club, but did not quite do enough with the Bengals to warrant a spot here.
Johnson set a franchise record for receiving yards in Cincinnati. He also led the AFC in receiving yards for four-consecutive seasons. Johnson added five-consecutive Pro Bowl appearances to his credentials.
Dillon has the same story. He set a single-game rushing record for a rookie in 1997 (246 yards). He also broke the NFL single-game rushing mark in 2000 (278 yards). He was a bright spot on a very dismal team, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, Super Bowl champion and reached 10,000 career rushing yards.
These numbers could warrant Dillon to make the monument; however, a good chuck of these numbers came while he was featured in the backfield for the New England Patriots.
These players have the same story. They were both great players for the franchise, but neither were cornerstones of the football team, or were a driving force to allow the franchise to get to the next level.
There are, however, two people that have those traits. These are the men that should replace Johnson and Dillon on the Bengals' Mt. Rushmore.
Enter Boomer Esiason.
Yes, Esiason should most certainly be on this monument. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time All Pro selection and 1988 NFL MVP -- he lead the AFC in passing in 1988 and 1989. Esiason was also the only other quarterback in franchise history to lead the team to a Super Bowl.
Esiason still holds many records for left-handed quarterbacks to this day -- touchdown passes (247), passing yards (37,920) and completions (2,969).
He also went out in a blaze of glory as a great quarterback should. During his second stint with the Bengals in 1997, Esiason threw what would be his last pass of his NFL career -- a 77-yard touchdown pass to Darnay Scott which would propel the team to a 16-14 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
There is no doubt that Esiason should be included on the Bengals' Mt. Rushmore.
Next, enter Paul Brown.
What kind of a monument is this without including, not only the founder and first head coach of the team, but one of the greatest visionaries in the history of the NFL?
Brown was able to take the fledgling team to the playoffs in 1970 -- the first year of the AFL-NFL merger. That same year, he beat his former team the Cleveland Browns. Brown called it his, "greatest victory."
Brown was also the man that found Anderson to quarterback the team. He was a genius when it came to finding talent and was a huge influence on one of his former assistants -- Bill Walsh.
Allowing Walsh to leave the team for San Francisco may have been the one mistake of his career.
Still, Brown's legacy lives on to this day. Many of his inventions are still used in today's NFL. Brown was responsible for inventing the practice squad (then called the taxi squad), the draw play and film study.
Brown's coaching tree extends to modern-day greats such as Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Bill Cowher, Bill Parcels, Buddy Ryan, Andy Reid, Chuck Knox, Chuck Noll, Tony Dungy, Don Shula and more.
There should be no one more deserving of this honor than the legendary Paul Brown.
Sean O'Donnell is a contributor for Yahoo! Sports and a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the co-host of the Bengals Central podcast on the Pro Football Central radio network. You can follow him on Twitter: @SeanODonnellNFL
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Anthony Munoz
- Ken Anderson
- Corey Dillon
- Pro Bowl selection
- Boomer Esiason