Bengals fans finally got what they’ve wanted for years, maybe decades: a Ring of Honor.
We all know Cincinnati’s players aren’t going to get the love they deserve from national media or Hall of Fame voters. So at least the franchise can honor them.
But the Ring of Honor never happened until something terrible happened: Bengals great Ken Riley, a cornerback on the team for 15 years, passed away last June. Not only was he not inducted into the Hall of Fame, despite having the fifth most interceptions in NFL history (65), but the NFL failed to honor him during their In Memoriam dedication at this year’s Hall of Fame ceremony.
According to John Sheeran, that disrespect was the wakeup call the team needed.
“I think Ken Riley’s death definitely sparked some of this. And if it wasn’t the main reason, it was one of the pivotal reasons [the team finally created a Ring of Honor], because that timing aligns with when Elizabeth Blackburn really integrated herself within the organization, with this new role,” Sheeran said. “And she was at the forefront of founding this thing in the first place. And I think [Riley’s death] helped spark this. Before this year, we heard nothing substantial about this happening. So, if Ken Riley isn’t in the first ballot, it’s a complete failure among the voters,” Sheeran opined.
Sheeran thinks that the voting system the team put in place will increase the likelihood that Riley will be inducted into the Ring of Honor this year.
“The longer you [are] a season ticket holder, the more votes you get,” Sheeran continued. “And for the people who have been season ticket holders for a long time, those people are usually on the older side, those people may have even seen Ken Riley play with their own eyes,” he said.
If the team is really campaigning for Riley, who has a strong Hall of Fame case, to get inducted in the near future, they’d be wise to quickly induct him into their own Ring of Honor.
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