By Quenna Sanchez
On Sunday, November 5, The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Kay Jewelers, the Official Provider of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence, honored Class of 2023 member Ken Riley Sr.at a special halftime ceremony at PayCor Stadium in Cincinnati.
Riley, represented by his wife Barbara, was recognized posthumously with a presentation of his Ring of Excellence when the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills met at Paycor Stadium.
His family was in town for the presentation of his Hall of Famer Ring of excellence, which was presented by Famer teammate and NFL Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz.
Ken Riley’s wife Barbara, and son Ken Riley Jr. excepted the ring as other family members looked on.
A former college quarterback at Florida A&M University, Ken Riley transitioned to cornerback in the National Football League, spending all 15 of his professional seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, who had used a sixth-round pick to select him in the 1969 AFL-NFL Draft.
He made an immediate impact, playing all 14 games as a rookie and intercepting four passes as the Bengals cracked the top 10 in defense despite a 4-9-1 team record. Riley would earn a reputation for consistency at his position. He intercepted at least one pass in every season, finishing his career with 65 overall. He ranks fifth on the NFL’s all-time list. Nine interceptions – Riley’s career-high and a Bengals team record – came in the team’s 10-win 1976 season. He finished the year with a flourish: a three-interception game in the 42-3 rout of the New York Jets.
Riley nearly matched his best season in the last year of his career, intercepting eight passes and returning two for touchdowns in 1983. He was rewarded with his lone first-team All-Pro designation.
Another notable accomplishment occurred in 1982, when Riley intercepted five passes in the strike-shortened nine-game season. Three thefts – one returned for a 56-yard score – came in a 31-17 victory over the Los Angeles Raiders.
At the time of his retirement, Riley also held Bengals records for most seasons played (15), most regular-season games played (207), career interception return yardage (591) and postseason interceptions (3). He led the Bengals in interceptions seven times and led the AFC three times.
In college, Riley led the Florida A&M Rattlers to a 23-7 record as a starting quarterback and three conference titles. In 1982, he was inducted into the Florida A&M Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence is one of three iconic symbols, along with the Hall of Fame Gold Jacket created by Haggar and the Bronzed Bust, that represent the elite status of being a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Each Enshrinee from the Class of 2023 received his Hall of Fame Gold Jacket and unveiled his Bronzed Bust during Enshrinement Week.
All three representations of membership into sports’ most exclusive club were displayed during the special presentation for Bengals fans to pay tribute to the late Riley.