‘He won’t get the ring and gold jacket’: FAMU, Bengals great passes away before hearing Hall call
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- In an interview with former Florida A&M administrator and historian Vaughn Wilson before his passing, Ken Riley spoke of being overlooked when it came to his induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"There's a lot of guys that had great careers there that went unnoticed and I was one of those guys," Riley said.
To this day, the man they called "The Rattler," in Cincinnati remains on the top five interceptions list in the NFL, despite playing in an era defined by running the ball.
It's an omission, Wilson says, Riley had come to terms with.
"He would participate in the efforts that I was doing to try to help try to foster attention with the voters to get in, he had resorted to the fact that he didn't think he'd get in if he hadn't gotten in by now," Wilson said.
Those efforts include a website,
and an online petition,
the type of pressure former Bengals beat writer and Hall of Fame voter Joe Reedy says are necessary to get the attention of Canton.
"As much as the selectors elect Hall of Fame classes, it's as much the fans' Hall of Fame as anyone," Reedy said. "People should go to the Hall of Fame site, find who the selectors are trying to campaign as much as they can to get everybody in."
Reedy was the Cincinnati representative during his time as a Hall of Fame voter, but was never a part of the senior committee whose votes, whose votes would count towards getting Riley enshrined in the Hall.
An uphill battle, as only two seniors are usually admitted a year, and arguments become circular.
"With seniors, there's a long list of guys waiting to get in that room and that kinda ticked me off at times, too, because seniors who didn't get elected, three, four years would all the sudden get into the room again," Reedy said.
Reedy, and many others who campaigned for Riley, believe it's only a matter of the time until the Rattler find his way into the hall; a day he'll, unfortunately, never see.
"When you really look at the raw stats of it, there's no way he shouldn't be in there," Wilson said. "Everybody that's above him is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."
“The sad thing will be now, whenever he does get in, it’ll be posthumous and, unfortunately, he won’t get the ring and gold jacket and all of that,” Reedy said.