Ken Riley

FAMU, NFL legend Ken Riley passes away

Ken Riley, a legendary player in college and pro football, passes away before he gets his due.

An HBCU legend and one of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history has passed away.


Florida A&M legend and former Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Ken Riley has passed away, according to multiple reports. Riley, who also coached at his alma mater, was 72.

Riley played quarterback for legendary coach Jake Gaither in the 1960s before being picked by the Bengals in the 1969 NFL Draft. He was converted to the defensive side of the ball and became a standout, picking off 65 passes during his career.

When he retired in 1984 that total was the fourth most picks in NFL history, yet Riley was never properly given his due. He was never selected to the Pro Bowl (despite being a three-time All-Pro) and has yet to be selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Earlier this year, HBCU Gameday’s Vaughn Wilson started a petition to get his former coach in the Hall of Fame. Sadly, Riley won’t be around to see it happen on this side.

Riley would return to FAMU as head coach in 1986, leading his team to the 1990 MEAC championship and an overall record of 45-40-2.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Riley family as well as Florida A&M.


FAMU, NFL legend Ken Riley passes away
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