In SummaryThe FAMU football legend’s family received flowers in his honor from the NFL team in the first Ring of Honor in Cincinnati.
Florida A&M University football legend Ken Riley has been honored by the Cincinnati Bengals in their inaugural Ring of Honor for his tenure in the league.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated NFL legend James “Shack” Harris, he talks a bit about their time in the league how they became good friends.
“His body of work merits his placement in the Hall of Fame. He played at a high level for 15 years with one team,” Harris said. “In almost 40 years after being in the NFL, he is still at No. 5 in interceptions. That has to account for something.”
According to the interview, Riley served as head coach at his alma mater FAMU and was a 2015 inductee into the Black College Football Hall of Fame after playing for 15 years in the NFL.
Riley suffered a heart attack in June 2020, and died at the age of 72 without the NFL voters inducting him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. According to an article from HBCU GameDay, there were conversations that Riley had been shunned by the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite his overall successes.
“With 65 interceptions for his career, he holds more than even Deion Sanders, who is considered the best corner in NFL history by some accounts,” the article read. “Every NFL player who has 65 interceptions or more is currently enshrined in Canton… except for Riley.”
The article also asserts Riley was a “low key” player, not having the same personality traits as aforementioned Deion. This may have played a role in his alleged snubbing.
Riley’s family attended the award ceremony in his place.
His wife, Barbara, and family members were honored by the Bengals with the hopes this gesture would serve as a nudge for the NFL to consider him for the Hall of Fame. Riley’s son, Ken Rilley II, spoke on the family’s desire to see him recognized by the league.
“We’ve always talked about that if you don’t honor your own, you can’t expect the rest of the nation to do it for you. We are a family that is appreciative of this opportunity,” Riley II said.
Bengals President Mike Brown touted history of the organization’s players and placed Riley among the best from the franchise.
“We have a long history of players, many of them great players. Ken Anderson and Ken Riley are at the top of that list of great players,” Brown said.