Ken Riley, Lemar Parrish, and Tommy Casanova formed one of the greatest secondaries of all time during the 1970’s. Although they played offense in college Paul Brown had them playing like All-Pros from day one. While they were together from 1972-1977 their pass defense was ranked 4th, 13th, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, 23rd in the NFL.
Ken “The Rattler” Riley was a flawless technician at conerback. Who used his play at quarterback at Florida A&M to have perfect anticipation skills of what the quarterback was doing in the NFL. Riley was a modest person on the field and a highly dignified man off the field and is part of the Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans. Riley was an impact player throughout his 15 season career with the Bengals. Riley had amazing ball skills for a defensive player as he was able to catch everything that came his way. Riley was also known for hitting the wide reciever right when he jumped for the ball in the legs causing them to flip over on there head and jarring the ball loose. He not only played for legendary coach Paul Brown but also another legendary coach in Jake Gaither at Florida A&M. Riley recorded 65 interceptions in his career, which was the fourth most in Pro Football history at the time of his retirement.
This is what Forrest Gregg the head coach during the Bengals Super Bowl run in 1981 had to say about Riley. “Especially for a cornerback those guys have to rely on their speed. Ken Riley had speed, but he also had something more he had intelligence. He studied his opponents and it made him a great player. I can only say this – in my opinion, Ken Riley is a Hall of Fame football player. You never had to guess whether Ken Riley was going to be ready to play.”
This is what Paul Brown said about Riley. “He’s a model football player and a real gentleman. Youngsters would do well to pattern themselves after him.”
This is what Riley said about not being in the HOF. “I’m in about six Halls of Fame but not the big one. People forget about you, but if I never got there, I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished.”
Riley’s greatest moment as a Bengal. “Just finding out for the first time that I had made the team, that was something. Here I was, a kid from a small school, and I made Paul Brown’s team.”
“Leapin” Lemar Parrish was an electrifying playmaker not only as a conerback but also as a returner and had the blazing speed. Lemar was a great running back at Lincoln University of Missouri making the NCAA All American Team in 1969 and used his instinctive ability to become one of the greatest cornerbacks ever at running with the ball. He was a flamboyant guy, a big-time dresser, and a great teammate. He had long arm’s allowing him to knockdown ball’s that were seemingly out of reach. Many fan’s during the time even thought he was the best runner the Bengals had during the 1970’s and most people who saw him play consider him as good as Deion Sanders was. Parrish was noted for his love to stop the run and tackle running backs. He was a shut down cornerback who teams tried to avoid. He would make the opponents cringe at the sight of him return kicks. Lemar Parrish recorded 47 interceptions in his career. It would be fitting to see Parrish and Riley inducted together one day.
This is what Lemar Parrish had to say about playing in Cincinnati. “I’ve never been back, but I really enjoyed my time in Cincinnati. The fans were great and I still keep in touch with some of the guys.”
This is what Lemar said about the Brown Family. “A funny man; a great man, I had a lot of respect for him. I had great admiration for his character. I liked Mike, too.”
This is what Lemar said about not being in the HOF. “I must be mistaken because I thought the Hall of Fame was for individuals and not teams. When I was a little kid, I dreamed about being one of the greatest that ever played. Riley and I were great individuals on some great teams.”
Parrish also backs two other teammates. He says he never faced a quarterback better than Anderson and that Curtis was simply the best wide receiver he ever faced. “People didn’t understand; I played my games during practice. Isaac got me ready to play everybody. He was fast and a great catch of the ball. And he was clever and he had technique. Kenny Anderson was able to throw a football 35 yards on a line. It would never leave the ground. It was his accuracy and his ability to read defenses.”
Tommy “The Doctor of Defense” Casanova done it all at LSU playing running back, defensive back, and also returned the ball. He could put devastating hit’s on opposing player’s. He was used mainly as a run stopper but could also drop back in coverage pick off ball’s. In 1977, he retired early to pursue his medical degree full time but not before he had went to 4 Pro Bowls in his 6 year career.He ended his career with 17 interceptions.
Source: YouTube – TheBengalsMind