TALLAHASSEE – The day has finally come for Florida A&M and Cincinnati Bengals legend as the late great Ken Riley has been selected as a 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.
“Congratulations to FAMU alumnus Ken Riley and the Riley family on his posthumous selection as a 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee,” said Vice President and Director of Athletics Tiffani-Dawn Sykes. “It’s no surprise to members of the Rattlers community that he has earned this honor. Riley has shown that an HBCU can prepare you to excel anywhere, at anything, on any level.”
“It’s always a great day to be a Rattler, but today is a little bit sweeter,” said Head Coach Willie Simmons. “Congratulations to the late great Ken Riley on being selected to the 2023 class of the NFL Hall of Fame. Your storied career is one we know all too well on the Highest of Seven Hills and with the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s great that you’ve finally been recognized by your peers as one of the all-time greats.”
Riley is one of the many storied Rattlers as he succeeded on the playing field as a player and coach, in the classroom, and at the administrative level. As a student-athlete, Riley quarterbacked the offense for legendary Alonzo “Jake” Gaither to a 23-7 record and three Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) championships. Riley also excelled in the classroom as he was a Rhodes Scholarship candidate.
Following playing at Florida A&M, Riley was selected in the sixth round of the 1969 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. After playing quarterback for the Rattlers, hall of fame head coach Paul Brown moved Riley to cornerback, which Riley would prove to be one of the best in history. In 15 seasons, Riley finished his career with 65 interceptions, which is the fifth most all-time. Riley was always consistent, having recorded at least one interception every season and had a career-high nine interceptions in 1976. Riley took five of those 65 interceptions to the house for six and recovered 18 fumbles. Riley was part of five playoff teams, made three interceptions in seven games, and started in Super Bowl XVI, in which he recorded four tackles. Riley was also named to the First Team All-Pro once and Second Team twice.
After retiring in 1983, Riley joined the Green Bay Packers as an assistant coach for two seasons before returning to the Highest of Seven Hills as the head football coach. He took over head coaching duties at his alma mater in 1986, and an eight-year stint featured two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championships and a pair of MEAC Coach of the Year honors. Following his time as head coach, Riley transitioned to the administrative side of athletics serving as the athletic director from 1994-2003.
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.
Riley will join cornerback/safety Ronde Barber, coach Don Coryell, linebacker Chuck Howley, defensive end/defensive tackle/nose tackle Joe Klecko, cornerback Darrelle Revis, offensive tackle Joe Thomas, linebacker Zach Thomas and linebacker/defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
Riley and the eight other members will be enshrined August 5, 2023.