For 14 years, most of us who are old enough to remember Mel Blount looked at him as the enemy.
In 1989, the former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame. He finished with 57 career interceptions and two touchdowns, was a four-time Super Bowl Champion, a five-time Pro Bowler, six-time All-Pro, and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1975.
Today, Blount may just be the best friend the Cincinnati Bengals have in their quest to get Ken Riley into the Hall of Fame.
Blount recently took to Twitter (via the great Bengal Jim) in an effort to drum up support for the former Bengals great.
“Justice needs to be served for Ken Riley,” Blount said.
Riley, who played cornerback for Cincinnati from 1969 through 1983, was a three-time All-Pro and a member of the Bengals’ 1981 Super Bowl team. His 65 interceptions are tied for fifth all-time with former Oakland Raiders’ great Charles Woodson, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in September.
“[Riley] played it as well as anybody, even including myself,” Blount said. “He played tremendously all of those years. It’s an injustice, not only to the Hall of Fame but to guys like myself who are in the Hall of Fame, not to recognize the work that he did and the contribution he made to the National Football League.”
Of the top 11 hall-eligible players on the career interception list, only three: Riley, Dave Brown (tied for 10th) and Darren Sharper (tied for 8th) are not in the Hall of Fame. Sharper was convicted of drugging and raping women in 2016 and is currently serving an 18-year prison sentence.
The Hall of Fame currently boasts six defensive backs with fewer career interceptions than Riley: Ronnie Lott, Dick LeBeau (who coached Riley during his last four years with the Bengals), Emmitt Thomas, Lem Barney, Aeneas Williams and Blount himself. Blount, who ranks 13th in career interceptions, came into the NFL one year after Riley and retired the same year as Riley.
“If there is any such thing as a Hall of Famer, it’s Ken Riley,” Blount said. “As a Hall of Famer, it’s a shame and we gotta correct that for a man like Ken Riley, who’s not only made such a great contribution to the game of football but to the game of life—a decent human being who gave his life to the community and to the NFL.”
In the end, it all comes down to this.
“The man is a Hall of Famer.”