Willie Anderson has officially announced his retirement from the NFL. As my favorite NFL player of all time I am sad to hear this news, almost as sad as it was for me when the Bengals released him. Willie was the inspiration to this Bengals team for many years. His career in Cincinnati started a little tumultuous. After a three week holdout in his rookie season Anderson did not start until seventh game of the season.
After that Anderson would start every game for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1997-2006. Throughout that stretch Willie Anderson made the pro bowl 2003-2006 and NFL 1st Team All-Pro in 04-06. Throughout his career Willie Anderson started 184 games at the Offensive Tackle quite and amazing feat for a player in the toughest position in football. Willie Anderson was dominating at his craft slowing down some of the games best DE. The Bengals didn't use schemes to help Anderson protect, Willie was always straight up with his defender and typically locked them down. He went many seasons only allowing 1-2 sacks per year. Big Willie suffered a knee injury in week three of the 2007 season which cut his production that year to seven games. Willie Anderson was released from the Bengals in 2008 following the Bengals request for Willie to take a pay cut.
The Bengals felt that Anderson was too old and could not recover from the injury. However, after he was released from the Bengals he signed with the Ravens and started 11 games for the AFC Championship runner-up Raven's team. After 14 seasons in the NFL Willie Anderson has decided to retire. As I stated in a previous post I believe that Anderson is one of the best Right Tackles of his generation in the NFL. He never really received all of the accolades because of the teams that he played on for Cincinnati. All those who followed this team closely while he was a member of the Bengals knew that Willie was the cornerstone of this team.
Anderson as a leader on and off the field and a great ambassador for the Cincinnati franchise. The Bengals should take some time in 2009 to honor Anderson, especially because of the way that he was released from this franchise.