Ken Riley becomes second Rattler in NFL Hall of Fame

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Florida A&M University’s very own Kenneth ‘Ken’ Jerome Riley will officially be enshrined into the 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class this upcoming Fall.

During Riley’s time at FAMU as an undergrad, he was a four-year starter at quarterback. Under his leadership, Ken led the Rattlers to a 23-7 record and 3 Conference Titles. Also, while at FAMU, Bro. Ken Riley crossed into the Beta Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. in the spring of 1967.

In 1969, Ken Riley was drafted to the Cincinnati Bengals in the 6th round as the 135th pick. While in Cincinnati, Riley intercepted 65 passes and returned 5 for touchdowns. He ranks 5th for interceptions in NFL history. Riley also holds the record for the second most games started by a player in franchise history at 207 for the Bengals.

Ken Riley is only the second FAMU Alum elected into the Pro Football Hall, following the great Bob Hayes. Riley was also inducted into FAMU Athletics and the Black College Football Hall of Fame, followed by the Cincinnati Bengal’s inaugural Ring of Honor.

Upon retiring at 40, Riley returned to FAMU as Head Football Coach from 1986-1993. As Head Coach, he led FAMU to 2 Conference championships and 2 Coach of the Year honors. He also served as Athletic Director from 1993-2004.

FAMU’s current Head Coach, Willie Simmons, spoke about Riley’s historic career in a social media post.

“Your historic career is one that we know all too well on the highest of seven hills and with the Cincinnati Bengals, and it’s great that your peers are finally recognizing you as one of the all-time greats,” said Simmons.
Riley, who died suddenly at age 72 in 2020, did not live to receive his enshrinement phone call, but Ken Riley Jr was the recipient.

“I’ve been praying for this call. It’s surreal,” Riley Jr said during the phone call with his dad’s former teammate and Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz.

Riley has come a long way from the 135th pick in the 6th round to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On August 5, 2023, the Hall of Fame induction will occur in Canton, Ohio.