Bengals' Great Ken Riley Dies At 72

It continues to be a very tough year as we have had to deal with a pandemic, riots, protests, a crumbling economy, millions out of work, no live sports, and the deaths of many prominent sports figures. Today, Ken Riley has joined the growing list that includes, Kobe Bryant, David Stern, Pat Dye, Johnny Majors, and many more. Riley was 72.

Ken played for the Cincinnati Bengals for all 15 years of his NFL career. He played his college ball at Florida A&M, where he was a quarterback. He posted a 23-7 record as a starter and led the Rattlers to multiple Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles. Riley hit an astounding 100 of his 108 passes for 1408 yards and 14 TDs as a senior with the team.

Despite his success as a QB that year, he was drafted by the Bengals in the 6th round of the 1969 draft as a cornerback. That was a very good move as Riley went on to post 65 interceptions over his career, which is the 5th most in the history of the NFL. In 1976, he posted a career-high nine INTs while in 1983 (his final year), he posted eight INTs and returned two of them for TDs. Riley was 36 years old at the time and it was the first, and only, year of his career that he was named to the All-Pro team. After leaving the Bengals, Riley went on to coach Florida A&M from 1986-1993, and then he was their Athletic Director from 1994-2002.

This is from Bengals’ President Mike Brown:

“Everybody here loved Kenny. He had everyone’s respect. He was a success with us, and after his playing career as a coach and athletic director at Florida A&M," Brown said in a statement. “I’m going to miss him. He was a good guy and a solid man. We send our condolences to his family.”

“When he came here, Kenny and Lemar Parrish had never played cornerback, and they’re the two best we’ve ever had," Brown continued. "And we’ve had a lot of good ones. We put him over there for a decade and a half and we didn’t have to worry about it. Kenny was quick to the point of the ball as a great interceptor and he was an excellent tackler, even though he wasn’t a very big man."{{cite)Mike Brown

The ex-Bengal defensive back was instrumental in the development of the zone blitz, which was later perfected by Dick Lebeau (Steelers) and Dom Capers (Packers). Riley is a member of the Bengals Hall of Fame but not yet a member of the NFL HOF. he was a great athlete in his career but at Florida A&M, he was also a Rhodes Scholar. R.I.P Kenny.

Some Info Gleaned From James Rapien at Sports Illustrated.

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