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Ken Anderson and Ken Riley among most deserving senior Hall of Fame candidates

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As they should be.

Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Clifton Boutelle/Getty Images

In a few days time, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will decide if the class of 2020 will feature 20 inductees in celebration of the NFL’s 100th year. The one-year policy would specifically allow many overlooked senior candidates to finally be graced with the sport’s highest honor.

As we all know by now, the Bengals may be the franchise with the most to gain from this. If any team should have multiple inductees, it’s them.

Doug Farrar of USAToday’s Touchdown Wire recently presented his 10 most deserving senior candidates for next year’s class, and Cincinnati’s two unheralded icons of the 70s, Ken Anderson and Ken Riley, cracked the middle of the list.

QB Ken Anderson

Before Bill Walsh had Joe Montana and Steve Young as the perfect distillations of his offensive philosophies, he had Anderson. Walsh was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator from 1968 through 1975, and under Walsh, Anderson transformed from a third-round pick out of Augustana to a player who led the NFL in completion percentage three times, passing yards two times, yards per attempt twice and passer rating four times. He’s been overlooked for years for a number of reasons — he was unable to win a Super Bowl, and he was seen by some as a tool of Walsh and Paul Brown more than his own quarterback — but he was also one of the first modernly efficient quarterbacks, playing in an era where guys who played 15 to 20 seasons ended their careers with unworkable completion percentages and more interceptions than touchdowns.

Conventional wisdom would have you believe Anderson to be the more likely inductee over Riley, but The Rattler has just an equally compelling case in Farrar’s eyes.

CB Ken Riley

Paul Krause, Emlen Tunnell, Rod Woodson and Dick “Night Train” Lane are the four career leaders in interceptions, and all four men are in the Hall of Fame. Riley, tied for fifth all-time with Charles Woodson at 65 picks, is not. Woodson will certainly get in. Ty Law, who’s in the Class of 2019, had 59 career interceptions. Deion Sanders, also in the Hall of Fame and considered by some to be the greatest cover cornerback ever, had 53. Riley was targeted more often in his career than Sanders was, but it strains credulity that Riley isn’t discussed more often as one of the NFL’s best all-time cornerbacks, and a Hall of Fame candidate. Add in his three postseason picks and Riley’s omission becomes even more curious.

The respective waits that Anderson and Riley have endured aren’t uncommon, but for their statistical accomplishments in the era they played in, they probably shouldn’t have waited this long. If 12 extra candidates are voted in to one class, it’ll be difficult for voters to ignore both of them.

This seems like the best chance either of them have to reach the halls in Canton, Ohio. If 20 ends up being the number and neither one gets voted in, the nail might be in the coffin,