When it comes to interceptions in the NFL, the record holder for the most is Paul Krause, who, from 1964-79 intercepted an astounding 81 passes. He is in the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Next on the list is Emlen Tunnell, who not only intercepted 79 passes from 1948-61, but he was also the first African-American to play for the New York Giants. He is also in the Hall of Fame.
If you go down one spot, you’ll find Steeler great Rod Woodson, who, from 1987-03, intercepted 71 passes, the third most in NFL history. He is also in the Hall of Fame. Coming in with 68 interceptions is Dick “Night Train” Lane, who played for the Lions from 1952-65. He is also in the Hall of Fame.
Then, with 65 interceptions, the fifth most in the history of the NFL, we come to former Bengals cornerback Ken Riley.
Riley played for the Bengals from 1969-83. His 65 interceptions turned into 596 yards and five touchdowns. The player with the second most interceptions in the history of the Bengals is Louis Breeden, who had 33, just over half of Riley’s.
If you go down the list of league interception leaders even more, at No. 6 is San Francisco great Ronnie Lott — 63 interceptions and Hall of Famer. At No. 7 is Darren Sharper, who has 63 interceptions and isn’t in the Hall of Fame because he’s ineligible right now (he played last year and you have to be retired for at least five). At No. 8 is Dick LeBeau, who had 62 interceptions in his career that lasted from 1959-72 and he’s in the Hall of Fame. At No. 9 is the only other player on the interception top-10 list not to be in the NFL Hall of Fame, Dave Brown, who played for the Seahawks from 1975-89, picking off 62 passes. Finally, rounding out the top 10, is Emmitt Thomas, who picked off 58 passes from 1966-78 and is also in the Hall of Fame.
If you can judge a cornerback on his ability to intercept passes, and Ken Riley intercepted the fifth most passes in NFL history, then why is it that he’s not enshrined with the rest of the top-five interception leaders in Canton?
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King agrees that interceptions should be more important to the Hall of Fame.
How important as stat should interceptions be? The Hall of Fame can’t figure it out; the fifth-leading interceptor of all time, Bengal Ken Riley, can’t get a sniff for the Hall. It should come into play someday if Darren Sharper plays another year — and continues to climb the list.
Darren Sharper is the only active player who’s close to surpassing Riley’s mark. After him are some great players that are sure to be in the Hall of Fame one day, including Ed Reed (54), Champ Bailey (48) and Charles Woodson (47). The great Troy Polamalu, who many believe has forged a Hall of Fame career already, only has 27 interceptions.
I know that a safety and cornerback have different responsibilities on a football field and a player like Ronnie Lott, Ed Reed or Polamalu have built Hall of Fame careers from more than just interceptions, but at the same time, 65 seems like too big of a number to ignore.
So, I think it’s safe to say, that Riley’s name can go next to Kenny Anderson’s as Bengals Hall of Fame snubs.
Source: Cincy Jungle