Ottis Anderson Touted as Cardinals Best Player Not Enshrined in HOF

Mason Kern

With a career that began in 1979 as a first-round draft pick to the St. Louis Cardinals, running back Ottis Anderson spent nearly eight full seasons with the franchise before being traded to the New York Giants.

Anderson had career rushing totals of 7,999 yards on 1,858 attempts (4.3 per attempt) with 46 touchdowns, as well as 299 catches for 2,495 receiving yards and five scores through the air, in St. Louis. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro in 1980. While his final season with the Cardinals was 1986, he remains the all-time rushing leader in franchise history.

He experienced a career resurgence in New York with the Giants after being traded there midway through the 1986 season en route to winning Super Bowl XXV with MVP honors in 1990. Anderson is one of only four running backs in NFL history to score rushing touchdowns in two different Super Bowls and also win Super Bowl MVP, joining Franco Harris and John Riggins at the time. Emmitt Smith also achieved the feat after Anderson. All three are in the Hall of Fame.

In his career, Anderson rushed for 10,273 yards and added 3,062 yards receiving.

Despite his success, Anderson has yet to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and has never been a semifinalist (top 25). He is also not a part of the Cardinals Ring of Honor. According to CBS, he represents the Cardinals' all-time greatest player to not be enshrined with a bust in the famed halls of Canton, Ohio.

"Anderson's success during his eight seasons with the Cardinals, along with his late-career resurgence with the Giants, should be enough to one day earn him a place in Canton," CBS's Bryan DeArdo wrote. "The 1979 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Anderson earned All-Pro honors that season while rushing for a career-high 1,605 yards. In his first 86 games with the Cardinals, Anderson averaged 86 rushing yards and 111 all-purpose yards per game. He also scored 45 touchdowns while helping the Cardinals post three consecutive winning seasons from 1982-84.

"In 1986, Anderson was traded to the Giants, where he served as Joe Morris' backup during New York's first Super Bowl run. Three years later, Anderson was back in the starting lineup, rushing for over 1,000 yards while helping the Giants post a 12-4 record. The following season, Anderson again led the Giants in rushing during the regular season while helping New York stun the two-time defending champion 49ers in the NFC title game. In Super Bowl XXV, Anderson rumbled for 102 yards and a touchdown to help the Giants topple the favored Bills. Anderson, 34 years old at the time, is still the oldest running back in league history to be named Super Bowl MVP."

In his first six seasons in the NFL as a member of the Cardinals, Anderson was a five-time 1,000-yard rusher. The only season he did not achieve the feat was in 1982 due to the strike that forced it to be shortened to nine games. He had 587 yards in the eight games he played that season.

Anderson joined Jamal Lewis, Baltimore Ravens; Tiki Barber, New York Giants; Roger Craig, San Francisco 49ers; Shaun Alexander, Seattle Seahawks; and Eddie George, Tennessee Titans as the other players at the position to make the list.