Riley makes list of finalists for NFL Hall of Fame

Ken Riley was recently elected to the Cincinnati Bengals’ inaugural Ring of Honor in 2021.
Photo submitted

Special to the Outlook

CANTON, Ohio –– FAMU and Cincinnati Bengals legend Ken Riley has been named a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist after retiring 40 years ago.  

Riley epitomized Rattler greatness. He left behind a lasting imprint as a former football student-athlete, head coach, and athletics director at FAMU. Riley was recently elected to the Bengals’ inaugural Ring of Honor. 

The NFL will announce its class of 2023 on Feb. 9 during the NFL Honors broadcast from Phoenix on NFL Network, NBC, and Peacock.  

Riley died in 2020 at age 72, nearly four decades after retiring from the franchise he spent his entire playing career (1969-83). He recorded 65 interceptions in 207 starts for the Bengals, a tally that ranks the fifth most in NFL history and still sits atop the franchise’s all-time list today.   

A four-year letter winner at quarterback for FAMU, Riley guided the Rattlers to a 23-7 record and three Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles. He took over head coaching duties at his alma mater in 1986, and during an eight-year stint his teams won two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championships. During that span, he was twice named MEAC Coach of the Year.    

Riley also served as the Rattlers’ athletics director from 1993-2004.   

His esteemed career garnered inductions into the FAMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1982, the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2015, and the Cincinnati Bengals inaugural Ring of Honor in 2021.