Ken Riley was the Bengals 6th round draft pick in 1969. He came from Florida A&M as a Quarterback. Head Coach Paul Brown decided to convert him into a Cornerback which became a great move. In his first year he had an immediate impact with 4 interceptions and 2 recovered fumbles.
For the rest of his career Ken Riley established himself as one of the best Cornerbacks in his time. He recorded at least 3 interceptions in every year but 3 in a 15 year career. His best season was in 1976 when he recorded 9 interceptions. That was a franchise record for 30 years.
He finished his career with 65 interceptions which ranked him 4th best of all time till Rod Woodson knocked him to 5th. He has the most interceptions by a DB that has not made it to the Hall Of Fame. Ken Riley has covered some of the best receivers in the game. He has picked off so many QBs including Joe Namath and Joe Montana.
Should he be in the Hall Of Fame? He sure should. 65 ints in a league that used the power run game as their ammo and he has been illegible for over 30 years now.
Peter King from SI.com says this:
My feeling is no one watched the Bengals defense in the seventies and thought he was a dominant safety. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be considered more than he has to this point. I believe his strongest argument would be his longevity. At age 36, in his final season of 1983, Riley had eight interceptions and returned two for touchdowns. I have always believed that long-term consistency should be a factor in Hall discussions as well, and that would be my major pro-Riley argument.
Longevity should be a huge piece in the discussion especially when you close out the career with 8 interceptions at age 36.
There are 6 players that are in the top 20 in interceptions that are behind Ken Riley. There are 3 more that will enter soon that finished behind him. The four players ahead of him is all in the Hall Of Fame.