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Bengals great Ken Riley dies at 72

Cincinnati Bengals - 1971 File Photos

Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Ken Riley runs back an interception during a December 1971 game. (Photo by Clifton Boutelle/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***


Ken Riley, a cornerback who spent his entire 15-year career with the Bengals and was a three-time All-Pro, has died at the age of 72.

Riley grew up in Bartow, Florida and was an excellent quarterback at Florida A&M, but after the Bengals selected him in the sixth round of the 1969 draft, they moved him to cornerback.

He thrived at his new position, grabbing four interceptions as a rookie and becoming a stalwart in the Bengals’ defense until he retired after the 1983 season. Even in his final year in the NFL, at age 36, he was playing at a high level, with eight interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

He was a good man. He was one of our greatest athletes and person,” Florida A&M Sports Hall of Fame chairman Alvin Hollins told the Tallahassee Democrat. “Ken showed tremendous leadership as a student and a quarterback. The only regret is that he didn’t get in the Pro Football Hall of Fame before he passed. Several of the players he coached made it to the NFL. We had great success with him as a coach and athletics director.”

After retiring from the Bengals, Riley became the head coach at Florida A&M and had a 45-40-2 record in his eight seasons at his alma mater. He then retired as head coach and became the school’s athletic director for eight years.