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He attended the University of Maryland and was drafted in the second round of the 1984 NFL draft (the 38th player chosen overall) by the Bengals, surprisingly low. In fact, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper was, in Esiason's words, "going ballistic" that he was still available in the latter stages of the first round. Two of his teammates on the Terrapins squad, guard Ron Solt and defensive end Pete Koch, were drafted in the first round by the Indianapolis Colts and the Bengals, respectively.
Arguably the most prolific left-handed quarterback in NFL history (Pro Football Hall of Fame member Steve Young """ the first left-handed quarterback to be inducted """ actually ranks below him in many statistical categories), Boomer Esiason got his first pro start on Oct. 7, 1984, in Cincinnati in a game against the Houston Oilers. On a rainy day, Boomer led the Bengals to a 13-3 win over Houston and scored the game's only touchdown on a quarterback rush near the goal line. Boomer took over for Ken Anderson as the Bengals' full-time starting quarterback on Sept. 22, 1985, in a game in Cincinnati against the San Diego Chargers. He could not repeat the victory of his first career start, as the Bengals fell to the Chargers and eventual Hall of Famer Dan Fouts 44-41. At 6'-5" and 240 pounds, far larger than his predecessor and with a much more powerful arm, Esiason was the signal caller on one of the most potent offenses of the late 1980's, and he was surprisingly mobile, rushing for 1,598 yards on 447 attempts and scoring 7 touchdowns in his career.
He was particularly adept at running the difficult play-action pass offense. A little over three years later, Esiason led the Cincinnati Bengals to their second (and to date, their last) appearance in the Super Bowl, where they again lost another close game to the San Francisco 49ers. In Super Bowl XXIII, the 49ers, led by Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, marched 92 yards on their last drive and won the game on a touchdown pass to receiver John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining in the game. A last-ditch pass to wide receiver Cris Collinsworth was broken up.