Crazy Canton Cuts: Ken Riley

JW NixSenior Writer IIMarch 15, 2009

Ken Riley
5'11" 181
Cincinnati Bengals
1969 - 1983 Β (15 Seasons)
207 Games Played
65 Interceptions
596 Yards
5 Touchdowns
4 All Pro Teams

Kenneth Jerome Riley was a sixth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1969. He was the 135th player picked overall. Riley was a four-year starter at quarterback for Florida A&M University. Riley also earned a Rhodes Scholar Candidacy in college. He was his Senior Class President in both high school and college.

After retiring from the NFL, Riley returned to A&M to resurrect their athletics program. Riley was the head coach of the football team for eight years, from 1986-1993, then the athletic director of the school from 1993-2002. He was a two-time MEAC Coach of the Year and was named Black College Coach of the Year in 1988. Ken Riley is a member of the Florida A&M Hall of Fame, the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, the Tallahassee Sports Hall of Fame and the Polk County (Fla.) Sports Hall of Fame.

Cincinnati head coach Paul Brown converted Riley to the cornerback in training camp. Riley responded with 4 interceptions his rookie year. He returned 14 kickoffs at an average of 23.9 YPR. Riley also caught the only two passes of his career that year.

Riley recorded 65 interceptions in his career, which was the fourth most in Pro Football history at the time of his retirement. The first three are all in Canton. At present time, Riley is 5th All Time. Riley languished on some mediocre teams in his era and was never given his due, despite his solid and spectacular efforts.

In his 15 seasons, Riley recorded three or more interceptions in all but three years. In 1976, Riley snared nine picks, a team record that stood for 30 years, for 141 yards. Riley returned one for a touchdown. He also set a team record by intercepting three passes in one game that season. Riley matched that feat again in 1982. In 1981 he recorded five interceptions as the Bengals went to their first Super Bowl. In 1983, Riley recorded eight interceptions for two touchdowns.

He retired after that season. His 65 interceptions for 596 yards, and five touchdowns are all still Bengals records. He also recovered 18 fumbles in his career. Riley is also third all-time in NFL history with 141 INT return yards in a season. He was also as the Bengals’ defensive captain for eight seasons from 1976-83.

The Bengals had moderate success in the 1970s, but happened to be in a division that was dominated by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Still, the Bengals had, perhaps, the best CB duo in the '70s with Riley and Lemar Parrish until 1977.

It was usually the Bengals run defense or running game that caused them to come up short in that decade. Riley was a quiet, scholarly man who was made of substance and preferred to let his play be the flash to his persona.

He rarely missed a game in his career, and was the constant defensive force for the Bengals throughout his entire career. While Ken Anderson, Parrish, and others got the press, Riley got the results needed for the Bengals to be able to compete weekly.

His is a career many may have forgotten due to his workman-like approach, but have no illusions. Ken Riley is most definitely deserving of being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. It is long, long overdue.

Notable Players Drafted In 1969 (*Denotes Canton Inductee)

1. O.J. Simpson, RB, Buffalo *
4. Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh *
7. Ted Kwalick, TE, San Francisco
11. Bill Stanfill, DE, Miami
13. Fred Dryer, DE, NY Giants
16. Gene Washington, WR, San Francisco
19. Roger Wehrli, CB, St. Louis Cardinals *
20. Ron Johnson, RB, Cleveland
24. Calvin Hill, RB, Dallas
31. Bill Bergey, LB, Cincinnati
33. Ted Hendricks, LB, Baltimore *
39. Ed White, OG, Minnesota
41. Bobby Douglass, QB, Chicago
48. Ed Podolak, RB, Kansas City
56. Jon Kolb, C, Pittsburgh
63. Eugene "Mercury" Morris, RB, Miami
69. Bill Bradley, S, Philadelphia
80. Bob Kuechenberg, OG, Philadelphia
93. Charlie Joiner, WR, Houston *
96. Roy Gerela, P, Houston
99. John Zook, DE, LA Rams
101. Jack Rudnay, C, Kansas City
139. Harold McLinton, LB, Washington
238. L.C. Greenwood, DE, Pittsburgh
262. Jeff Van Note, LB, Atlanta
273. John Fuqua, RB, NY Giants
337. Carl Mauck, LB, Baltimore
338. Steve O'Neal, P, NY Jets