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FAMU's Ken Riley becomes the second Rattler to enter the NFL Hall of Fame

A black and white photo of a Black man with long sideburns and a baseball hat with a whistle around his neck, on a football field
Mark Foley
State Archives of Florida
FAMU football coach Ken Riley at a practice session - Tallahassee, Florida. 1986.

From his collegiate days on the “highest of seven hills” in Tallahassee, to “The Queen City” of Cincinnati, —Riley has found a home in the National Football League’s Hall of Fame following Thursday’s honor ceremony.

Riley will be officially enshrined in the hall this Fall.

“Your historic career is one that we know all too well on the highest of seven hills and with the Cincinnati Bengals and it’s great that you are finally being recognized by your peers as one of the all-time greats,” said FAMU head football coach Willie Simmons in a social media post.

Riley, a former FAMU Athletics director and championship-winning coach, is the second player in FAMU’s history to be inducted into the NFL hall of fame. He shares that honor with ex-Dallas Cowboy, “Bullet” Bob Hayes.

“Ken Riley went about his life with dignity and humility. His results alone tell the story. He has not played in four decades, but he’s still the fifth all-time leader in interceptions in the NFL,” said FAMU President Larry Robinson in a statement.

“This honor is long overdue, but so well deserved. Unfortunately, Ken is no longer here to celebrate with us, but we know his family and the FAMUly are overjoyed with this news. This will be recognized as a 'Great Things Moment' for FAMU and Ken’s family. He has now received his due.”

Riley died in 2020 at the age of 72. He played for the Bengals from 1969 to 1983. During his career, he recorded 65 interceptions in 207 starts for the Bengals, a tally that ranks fifth in NFL history and first for the Bengals. Riley was inducted into the FAMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1982, the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2015, and the Cincinnati Bengals' inaugural Ring of Honor in 2021.

Adrian Andrews is a multimedia journalist with WFSU Public Media. He is a Gadsden County native and a first-generation college graduate from Florida A&M University. Adrian is also a military veteran, ending his career as a Florida Army National Guard Non-Comissioned Officer.

Adrian has experience in print writing, digital content creation, documentary, and film production. He has spent the last four years on the staff of several award-winning publications such as The Famuan, Gadsden County News Corp, and Cumulus Media before joining the WFSU news team.