Another year will go by without either Ken Riley or Ken Anderson being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame senior committee announced today that former Raiders receiver Cliff Branch will be enshrined in the class of 2022 as the senior player nominee. Branch, who passed away in 2019, is the latest senior member to make it over both Riley and Anderson.
At this point, the continued snubbing of both former Cincinnati Bengals isn’t a tremendous surprise. Riley and Anderson couldn’t even make the Hall of Fame’s Centennial Slate from a year ago, which featured 15 players, coaches and contributors. Most of the 15 were senior nominees.
But as the years persist, frustration continues to build within the fan base. Many went to Canton earlier this Summer to raise awareness for the franchise’s worthy candidates. Surely their efforts will only grow after this latest setback.
It’s okay to be upset about Riley and Anderson being left out of the Hall of Fame. What’s also important is to remember there will always be other worthy candidates aside from them.
Branch is a fantastic example. He retired after a 14-year career in which he was a four-time Pro Bowler, three All-Pro, and a three-time Super Bowl champion. At that time, he was 11th on the all-time receiver yards list. The 10 players above him have already been inducted into Canton.
A player with Branch’s resume shouldn’t have to be inducted posthumously, nor should his death have been the catalyst to bring his career into the forefront of the discussion. But he will be immortalized next August.
At the very least, we will still have a celebration when Riley and Anderson are inducted into the Bengals’ Ring of Honor next month. Perhaps that visual will be the final push the committee needs to nominate one of them next year.