“Legends are timeless”
Before his professional career, Riley played quarterback for Florida A&M University. In addition to being a skilled athlete, Riley also excelled academically. He earned his team’s scholastic award and a Rhodes Scholar Candidacy. In 1977, Riley was enshrined in Florida A&M’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
After graduating from college, Riley was selected by the Bengals in the 6th round of the 1969 Common Draft.
When Riley reported to training camp, Cincinnati head coach Paul Brown decided to convert Riley to the cornerback position. Brown’s decision turned out to be a very good one. Riley made an immediate impact for the Bengals as a defensive back, recording 4 interceptions and 66 return yards. He also recovered 2 fumbles, added another 334 yards on 14 kickoff returns, and even caught 2 passes for 15 yards on offense.
Riley intercepted Richard Todd once and future Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath twice. It was Namath’s final game as a New York Jet.
Riley continued to be an impact player for Cincinnati throughout the rest of his career. In 1981 he recorded 5 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery, assisting his team to their first ever Super Bowl appearance against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVI.
In his final NFL season (1983), the 36-year-old Riley recorded 8 interceptions, 89 return yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 fumble recoveries.
After his Pro Football playing career ended, Riley spent two years as an assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. Then in 1986, he took over as the head coach of his alma mater, Florida A&M. Riley coached Florida A&M from 1986–1993, compiling a 48-39-2 record, with two Mid-Eastern Athletic conference titles and 2 MEAC coach of the year awards. Riley then served as Florida A&M’s athletic director from 1994-2003.
He is now retired and living in his hometown of Bartow, Florida. Commenting about not yet being enshrined in the Hall of Fame, Riley said “I think my numbers are deserving of the Hall of Fame. I’ve always been a modest and low-key type guy. I’ve always thought your work would speak for you. It’s like it’s working against me now because the older you get and the longer you stay out of it, people forget who you are.”
Riley is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. In 2007 he was named to the Florida High School Association All-Century Team which selected the Top 33 players in the 100-year history of high school football in the state of Florida’s history.
FAMU Great Inducted Into The Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF) in 2015. The Class includes Roger Brown (University of Maryland Eastern Shore), Richard Dent (Tennessee State University), L.C. Greenwood (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd (Grambling State University), Ken Riley (Florida A&M University), Donnie Shell (South Carolina State University) and Coach W.C. Gorden (Jackson State University).
Votes were tallied from the 13-member Selection Committee, comprised of prominent journalists, commentators and historians, as well as former NFL General Managers and executives, and from previous BCFHOF inductees to determine the Class of 2015.
Inductees were honored at the Sixth Annual Black College Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, Presented by the Atlanta Falcons.