Ken Riley II

Ken Riley II paints full picture of Hall of Fame life

Ken Riley II gave an impassioned speech about his late father’s dedication to family, football and FAMU.

Thrust into the spotlight upon the passing of his father Ken Riley Sr., Ken Riley II hit a home run in his speech to millions on behalf of his father’s legacy. It was tough. He knew it would be leading up to it, but he delivered on football’s biggest stage. 

Ken II bore the pressure of playing for his father who was an All-Pro cornerback at FAMU, where he had a solid career.  He handled the expectations of being his father’s son and made an All-MEAC career for himself.  He would graduate and begin his career, all the while advocating for his father to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

It was something he knew his father wanted badly.  In his later years, Ken Sr. often talked about being snubbed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  At one point he never thought he would attain the honor.  While several factors contribute to a player making the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Bengals honoring Riley in their initial “Ring of Honor” seemed to be the tipping point.  One class after making the Ring of Honor, Riley has attained the ultimate football honor. 

Barbara Riley, Ken Sr.’s wife has chosen to stay in the background.  She advocated for her husband, but decided to utilize Ken Riley II as the family spokesman.  For the Bengals Ring of Honor ceremony, Riley would accept the jacket on behalf of his dad.  On Saturday in front of millions of viewers, he delivered a gem of a speech. 

Ken Riley II, Hall of Fame

Here is the speech in its entirety: 

Years ago, when I was talking to my father, I told him that I wouldn’t visit Canton until he was enshrined.  And now I’m here—and I believe that he’s smiling down on us today.  

My father played with the Bengals for 15 years, from 1969 until 1983.  And even though he never played defense until they drafted him……my father, Ken Riley, ended his career as the no. 4 all-time interception leader. Today, 40 years later, he’s no. five.  My father was a true professional from start to finish.  As a kid, I didn’t know what I was watching when he was training in those long Hot summer Florida days. Sometimes we would all ride in the car as he ran on those old country roads. 

But as a man, I understand that I was seeing the dedication, commitment, and hard work that it takes to be great.  The good ones make it look easy. Most people think, “Oh, they’re just born blessed with talent,” which is true.  But what they don’t see is the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making that talent shine.  

Dad is being inducted today, but his whole life, he was a hall of famer on and off the field. My father was a God Fearing Man and always told us to keep God First. He cared about his family, his community, and his kids. He was a family man to the bone, and being away from us for months at a time while he played was a giant sacrifice. And then, when his playing days were over, he sacrificed again—this time, putting his career second to his family. 

He had a budding NFL coaching career, but he took a job at his alma mater, Florida A & M University. He did that because he loved his school, but also because he thought that we would be happier back in Florida than we were in Green Bay. Once he was at FAMU, he got calls from SMU, Georgia Tech, and others. But he didn’t leave. It was important to him that we all finish our education, and thanks to his and my mother’s guidance, we all graduated college, and I hope that we’re making them both proud. I want to say a couple words of thanks to my mother, one of the strongest women I know. 

My Dad always used to say that marrying Barbara “Candy” Moore was the best decision he ever made, and he was right. When he was doing the season, she was Mom and Dad—she was the rock of our family. And even though she was working as a teacher, she always made sure that we had everything we needed.  

Mom, I know it’s hard to see the fruition of everything you and Dad worked for, and him not being here with us today. But all the love that everyone here is feeling for him, that’s for you, too, because of the way you supported him and helped him stay strong for the FIFTY years that you two were married. 

 Finally, I want to say thank you to everyone who’s here to share this great day with us. Many thanks go to the Hall…to the fans…to my Dad’s teammates…and to everyone who loves the game the way that he did. It’s been a long time coming, Dad—but you made it!”

Ken Riley II paints full picture of Hall of Fame life
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