Ken Riley always dreamt of being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he did not have the opportunity to don the gold jacket. He passed away last June.
His distant dream could become a reality following the Bengals' announcement of their inaugural Ring of Honor class.
Riley will join Paul Brown, Anthony Muñoz, and Ken Anderson as the first group of former players, coaches and individuals honored for their role in team history.
“The Ring of Honor is the Mount Rushmore for the Bengals. It’s incredible for my father to be included in the inaugural class,” Riley’s son, Ken Riley II said in a statement. “To be recognized by the fans, that makes it even more special. My father would receive so much love every time he came back to Cincinnati, and to have them vote him in makes it that much sweeter.”
The defensive back spent his entire career (1969-83) in Cincinnati, finishing with 65 interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries.
His 65 picks are the fifth-most in NFL history and the most one player has had for the same team.
The Florida native was a sixth-round pick of the Bengals in the 1969 NFL Draft. Riley played quarterback in college, finishing with a 23-7 record as a starter. When he arrived in Cincinnati, Riley’s position was changed to corner back and “The Rattler” was born.
The nickname “The Rattler” was tokened in honor of his college mascot at Florida A&M.
Riley played in a total of 214 games for the Bengals, including the playoffs. He started 202 of 207 regular season games.
His interceptions, interception-by-return yards (596) and touchdowns by interception (5) are all franchise records.
The three-time All Pro has more interceptions than 29 other defensive backs in the Hall of Fame.
Paul Krause (81), Emlen Tunnell (79), Rod Woodson (71), and Dick Lane (68) are the lone players ahead of Riley on the all-time interceptions list. Charles Woodson, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, is tied with Riley with 65 career interceptions.
He's been eligible for the Hall of Fame since 1988. Riley’s name, like Ken Anderson, has yet to be called to Canton. Fans have supported Riley and Anderson in their Hall of Fame quests hoping one day soon that will become a reality.
Riley’s induction into the Bengals Ring of Honor could be the extra push he needs to get there.
The inaugural Ring of Honor class will be inducted on Sept. 30 during the Bengals Thursday Night Football game against the Jaguars.
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