Anderson ‘grateful’ to Bengals’ first Ring of Honor class with teammate Riley

Name: Ken AndersonPosition: QuarterbackTenure: 1971–1986Fun fact: Anderson was ranked 6th all-time for passing yards in a career at the time of his retirement. He has been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame several times, and on two occasions was among the 15 finalists for enshrinement.How do the Browns stack up?
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Name: Ken AndersonPosition: QuarterbackTenure: 1971–1986Fun fact: Anderson was ranked 6th all-time for passing yards in a career at the time of his retirement. He has been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame several times, and on two occasions was among the 15 finalists for enshrinement.How do the Browns stack up?

Former quarterback, defensive back voted in by season ticket holders; join Munoz, Brown in inaugural group

Ken Anderson said he is grateful the Cincinnati Bengals are recognizing players from the past in such a meaningful way by starting a Ring of Honor.

The organization announced Thursday that Anderson and former cornerback Ken Riley will be joining Paul Brown and Anthony Muñoz in Cincinnati’s inaugural Ring of Honor class, and Anderson said his selection honors not only him but also those teammates he played with during his 16-year career quarterbacking the Bengals.

Season ticket members selected Anderson and Riley from a ballot that featured 17 former players. The front office had picked Munoz and Brown to go in as well earlier this year. The Ring of Honor recognizes former players, coaches and individuals who have played a significant role in the franchise’s history and tradition and will be displayed on the East facade inside Paul Brown Stadium and live on Bengals digital channels.

The inaugural Ring of Honor induction ceremony will take place during halftime of the Sept. 30 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, when the Bengals play on Thursday Night Football.

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“First of all, my thanks to the Bengals organization for taking a chance on a kid from Augustana College back in 1971 and giving him a chance to develop,” Anderson said in a Zoom news conference Thursday. “It’s really an exciting day for me to go in with Kenny Riley. He was my longest tenured teammate that I ever played with. That’s really exciting. I’m just grateful that the Bengals are doing this Ring of Honor. It remembers guys from the past. We have a long tradition of success and winning in Cincinnati that started in the ’70s. Certainly going to the playoffs that third year in 1970 before I got here. But ’73, ’75, I think in those years we were as good as any team in the National Football League.

“…We can kind of bring back some of those memories. I think sometimes people forget today, especially around the country, that the Bengals have a long and rich winning tradition in the National Football League and I’m really glad we can focus on that. It will be a fun night September 30th.”

Anderson’s 16 seasons are the most by a Bengals player.

The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback played 192 games in a career highlighted by leading the Bengals to their first Super Bowl while winning the NFL MVP and passing title in 1981. Anderson is one of five players in NFL history to win at least four league passing titles and the only one to win consecutive passing titles in two different decades — doing it in 1974-75 and 1981-82.

Ken Riley, a 15-year NFL veteran with the Cincinnati Bengals who played and coached at Florida A&M University, died June 7. He was 72. (Gary Landers/Associated Press File)
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Ken Riley, a 15-year NFL veteran with the Cincinnati Bengals who played and coached at Florida A&M University, died June 7. He was 72. (Gary Landers/Associated Press File)

Credit: Gary Landers/Associated Press File

Credit: Gary Landers/Associated Press File

“I think to a certain extent it’s God given ability to be able to throw a football and know where you want it to go,” Anderson said of his throwing accuracy. “Then to showcase that, you’ve got to be able to have the fundamentals of throwing the football, the balance with your footwork. That’s what Bill Walsh and Lindy Infante did a great job with me.”

Riley, who died in June 2020, was one of the best defenders in Bengals history.

He played in a Bengals-record 207 games as the only defender in team history to play 15 seasons, and his 65 career interceptions are the fifth most all-time and the most by a pure cornerback in the NFL. Riley also holds the team record for interception return yards (596) and interception returns for touchdowns (five).

“This is definitely a great honor for my father to be able to be selected in the inaugural Ring of Honor with some of the Mount Rushmore,” Riley’s son, Ken Riley II, said in a Zoom news conference Thursday. “Congratulations to Ken Anderson, Anthony Muñoz and the great Paul Brown. It’s an extreme honor and privilege for my father. Very exciting. It’s bittersweet that he’s not here to celebrate with the rest of the team, but I know he’s looking down from above and proud and excited and it’s well deserved. Definitely want to thank the Cincinnati Bengals and Elizabeth (Blackburn) for putting this together and all of the fans.”

Both Anderson and Riley are often discussed in the conversation of Bengals who should be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Former players and fans for a long time have expressed the need for Cincinnati to recognize its own to gain national recognition.

Asked if he believes the Ring of Honor will help his and Riley’s case for a Hall induction, Anderson said he isn’t sure.

“I guess I’ve kind of been in the picture for a while now,” Anderson said. “I don’t know what the criteria is sometimes to get in the Hall of Fame. So I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it until it’s that time of year when somebody calls me and asks me about it. … Any success I had was directly related to the team around me. So I guess I’ve never been concerned about individual things when it’s so much of a team game.”