Former Bengals great Riley voted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

Credit: Gary Landers

Credit: Gary Landers

The Cincinnati Bengals have another representative going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but a second finalist for this year’s class will have to wait another year.

The late Ken Riley, who played his entire 15-year NFL career with Cincinnati from 1969 to 1983, was announced to the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 on Thursday night during the NFL Honors awards show. A 49-person selection committee met virtually Jan. 17 to conduct the annual vote, and Riley, in his 35th year of eligibility, was elected along with eight others.

Former Bengals right tackle Willie Anderson also was a finalist for a second straight year did not get in, but told he was “in a good mood because Kenny Riley is in.”

The other members voted in were cornerback/safety Ronde Barber, coach Don Coryell, linebackers Chuck Howley and Zach Thomas, defensive lineman Joe Klecko, cornerback Darrelle Revis, offensive tackle Joe Thomas and linebacker/defensive end DeMarcus Ware.

Riley passed away in June 2020 at the age of 72, but his family received the news of his enshrinement in a phone call that included Hall of Fame president Jim Porter and another Hall of Famer.

Known by various nicknames, such as “The Rattler,” “Mr. Bengal” and “Mr. Consistency,” Riley was selected by the Bengals in the 1969 AFL-NFL Draft after playing quarterback at Florida A&M. He immediately converted to cornerback and played in 207 games over his 15 seasons, amassing 65 interceptions.

“Ken was a top cover corner. He could play the ball at the point of reception so well that he became one of the top interceptors of all time. And he would tackle,” Bengals president Mike Brown told “Only 185 pounds, he hit hard. Receivers knew they would pay a price if they caught a ball in front of him. Most of all, Ken was a smart player. He didn’t miss assignments. Ever. He was a wonderful person. He looked out for others. Everyone with all levels of the team respected him. He was a man that could be counted on.”

Riley, who was an AP All-Pro in 1983 and AP All-AFC in 1975 and 1976, held or shared six team records through his final season with the Bengals. He led the AFC in interceptions in 1976, 1982 and 1983 and was the Bengals’ leader in that category seven times. He ranks fifth (tied with Charles Woodson) on the NFL’s career interceptions list.

There are three former Bengals players enshrined in Canton: offensive tackle Anthony Munoz, who was with the Bengals from 1980 to 92, wide receiver Charlie Joiner (1972-75) and wide receiver Terrell Owens (2010). Bengals founder and former head coach Paul Brown is also in the Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2023 will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

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