Rattler Legend No. 7 : Kenneth Riley

Ken Riley is one of the greatest football players in Rattler history. Born in Bartow, Fla., Riley was a graduate of the segregated Union Academy. Riley then came to FAMU, and soon after earned the position of starting quarterback for the Rattlers from 1966-1968.

During the ’68 season Riley led the Rattlers in points scored (38) and touchdowns (20, six rushing). He also earned the football team’s Scholastic award along with a Rhodes scholar candidacy.

Following Riley’s stellar career at FAMU, the Cincinnati Bengals took him in the sixth round of the 1969 draft, and moved him to cornerback. Riley shined immediately, grabbing four interceptions in his rookie season.

To the public, Riley appeared to be overshadowed by teammate Lemar Parrish, who played in six Pro-Bowls in the seventies.

Riley’s career however was longer and more productive than Parrish’s.

By the time Riley retired in 1983 he had 65 interceptions, fourth most in league history.

Riley was the defensive leader and captain in Cincinnati for his last eight years, including Cincinnati’s 198

He was nominated for the Hall-of-Fame in his first year of eligibility, 1989, although he did not get in. Current Hall-of Famers Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and Mel Blount have all lobbied for Riley’s induction.

Following his retirement from the pros, Riley took a job as an assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers for two years.

In 1986 Jake Gaither asked him to coach the football team, and Riley accepted. He came back to FAMU as the head football coach between 1986-1993, compiling a 48-39-2 record to go along with two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles and two MEAC Coach of the Year awards.

In 1988 Riley was given the Black College Coach of the Year award.

In 1994 Riley was named the athletics director at FAMU, a position he held until last December.

During his tenure as athletics director, Rattler teams won thirty conference championships and twelve MEAC all-sport championships, five men’s and seven women’s.

Among Riley’s numerous accomplishments, on and off the field, were a 1977 induction into the FAMU athletic Hall-of Fame. Riley is a continuing example of why the Rattlers will strike, strike, and strike again.

–compiled by Will Brown