Former Bengals Great Willie Anderson Falls Short of Hall of Fame Class of 2024

Third time as a finalist ends the same for former Cincinnati Bengals tackle Willie Anderson, as he again falls short of the Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2024 tonight at the NFL Honors, and Anderson, who was a finalist for the third year in a row, was not among the top five vote-getters.

The five chosen for induction were Dwight Freeney, Devin Hester, Andre Johnson, Julius Peppers, and Patrick Willis.

Former Bengal Willie Anderson Misses Out on Hall of Fame

There was hope among those close to Anderson and within the organization that this could be his year with no other offensive tackles on the list of 12 finalists.

“Willie was as good a right offensive tackle as you could draw up,” Bengals owner Mike Brown said after Anderson was named a finalist. “He had it all — strength, movement, and attitude.”

Among the players who will be eligible for the first time in 2025 is tackle Joe Staley, who has six Pro Bowls but no All-Pro selections on his résumé. Anderson has four Pro Bowls and three All-Pros.

Unlike other positions, offensive linemen don’t have many stats that can be used to validate their careers. That has changed somewhat since the creation of Pro Football Focus, the Cincinnati-based company that has graded player performances since 2006.

So, in the offseason leading up to the 2021 campaign, former Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander commissioned PFF to go back and grade every game of Anderson’s career, which began in 1996, when the Bengals selected him in the first round out of Auburn.

“For years, offensive linemen have made the Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame based on popularity and other reputations,” Alexander told The Athletic in 2021.

“But analytics like Pro Football Focus has now changed all that. Offensive linemen now have stats. And there’s a way to fairly and objectively set the discourse. … When Pro Football Focus objectively grades Willie, he will have ammunition.”

There are just two players who spent the majority of their career with the Bengals in the Hall of Fame — tackle Anthony Muñoz, who was enshrined in his first year of eligibility in 1998, and cornerback Ken Riley, who went in posthumously via the Senior Committee last year.

There is hope Ken Anderson can follow Riley’s path via the Senior Committee, and tackle Andrew Whitworth, who played two seasons with Anderson in Cincinnati, will be eligible in 2026.

When Anderson was announced as a finalist in December, he thanked the fans on social media, writing:

“Thank you so much to all our fans who have kept my name alive these last 15 years of retirement,” Anderson wrote. “Also others who are not Bengals fans who have kept this push to the finals for me last 3 years! I am truly appreciative of you. Wouldn’t be at this point without you #Whodey!”

MORE: Bengals Announce 3 Hirings, 1 of Which Is Newly Created Position on Offense

His wait, and the push of those who support him, will continue for another year.

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