All the interviews and reports about Ken Riley, one of the first inductees into the Cincinnati Bengals’ Ring of Honor, reveal that he was an exceptionally good man.
That was further confirmed in our exclusive interview with his son, Ken Riley II, who recalled how his father’s humility, hard work, and ability to accept that certain things are out of his control inspired their entire family.
That low key personality made him a very pleasant man to be around. Unfortunately, it may have also resulted in him not getting the recognition he deserved then and deserves today.
Riley was a three-time All Pro yet never a Pro Bowler. The Pro Bowl, of course, is often regarded as a popularity contest while All-Pro honors are a better metric of a player’s performance.
And, of course, Riley is the only player in the top eight for career interceptions not in the Hall of Fame.
We asked his son why Riley Sr. still hasn’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame, despite having the fifth most interceptions (65) in NFL history. Here was Riley Jr.’s response:
“He was a humble guy, where, if you met him, you would never know he was fifth all time, fourth all time at the time of retirement, in interceptions... In a way, I think that did hurt him, not being boastful and being in a smaller market... If he had been on one of the more popular teams, he probably, definitely would have already been in the Hall of Fame and made several Pro Bowls.”
Nonetheless, Riley Sr. was “grateful” to spend his entire career in Cincinnati. “The Bengals have always been family,” said Riley Jr. “We love the fans, and playing for coach Paul Brown and coach [Forrest] Gregg was definitely something he cherished.”
He added that his father always believed that things happen for a reason. “Maybe if he had went somewhere else, he might have not had that career,” Riley Jr. said. “So it was definitely a blessing to play his whole career with the Cincinnati Bengals. And hopefully one day, through it all, we can get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”