Bengals All-Time Lists

Cincinnati Bengals: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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56. . CB. (1969-83). Ken Riley. 6. player

  • 1x First-Team All-Pro (1983)
  • 3x Second-Team All-Pro (1973, 1975-76)
  • Franchise leader in career interceptions (65)
  • Franchise leader in interception yards (596), interception return touchdowns (5)
  • Cincinnati Bengals 40th Anniversary Team

Seemingly every NFL team has a guy like this, a player who made it to very few Pro Bowls, if any, but was an absolute force to be reckoned with on that football team for years. In the case of the Bengals, cornerback Ken Riley would certainly fall into this category.

For a franchise that had other outstanding defensive backs the like of Tommy Casanova, David Fulcher and Lemar Parrish, Riley edges out all for the best defensive back in franchise history. Riley was a former sixth-round pick out of Florida A&M by the Bengals in the 1969 Common Draft.

Though he never made it to a Pro Bowl, Riley was the cornerstone of the Bengals secondary for 15 seasons. He made it on to four All-Pro teams. While he was second team All-Pro three times in the mid-1970s, Riley earned his only All-Pro first team honor in his last season in 1983.

Perhaps Riley’s best season came in 1976. He set a franchise record for most interceptions in a season with nine. That mark would stand until Deltha O’Neal came away with 10 in 2005 nearly 30 years later.

Riley did have the benefit of playing in the same Bengals secondary for years with Casanova and Parrish. From 1972 to 1977, the Bengals had about as good of a trio you could have hoped for in an NFL secondary with Riley as the on-field leader in the defensive backfield.

Riley played into his late 30s, entirely for the Bengals. When he hung up the spikes after the 1983 NFL season, he had put together quite the résumé. Four All-Pro honors and 65 interceptions. That mark remains a franchise record. Riley also holds franchise records in interception return yardage at 596 and interceptions for touchdowns with five.

Though probably a mainstay in the Hall of Very Good, you can’t tell the history of the Bengals without mentioning Riley. He made the Bengals 40th Anniversary Team in 2007 and would be a prime candidate for Bengals Ring of Honor if they ever put something like that together. Bengals, you should do that.

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