THE MISSING HALL OF FAMER
By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor – in – Chief
PHILADELPHIA (www.basnnewsroom.com) Nicknames – are cool.
They imply inclusion, oft times encompassing a trait or quirk connected to that person. In my old neighborhood, there was a brother, John, nicknamed “Pie” because of his pie-faced pallor; a girl, Pamela, who was called “Quack” by most because she walked like a duck.
My nickname to some was “Slinky” because I walked on my tiptoes; when I was really making time, I looked like the old Slinky toy bouncing down the stairs!
Nicknames, however, are one thing, pedigree is another; when you have both you can be exceptional – to a fault.
The 1969 Draft brought the baby Cincinnati Bengals a franchise player who excelled in spite of the supposed “Genius” who selected him. Ken Riley, a quarterback from Florida A&M University, was selected in the sixth round…
With the man that would be their franchise guy in hometown hero Greg Cook, head man Paul Brown, did like many coaches and scouts would do with Black quarterbacks drafted – move them to another position.
However, it can’t be a mistake when a superior athlete takes on a challenge. Riley, an All – Academic when he graduated (as well as a Rhodes scholar) learned a new position on the other side of the ball – and was a Day One starter – at defensive back.
The combination of his guile and quickness at his position, in addition to his alma mater earned Riley the nickname “Rattler.” Let there be no doubt, Riley was the original ‘Snake.’
For the next 15 years, Riley held down the right side of the field, going against the Ace receiver on every NFL roster; and his fifteenth and last season statistically, one of his best – eight picks, two touchdowns and first team league ranking in many publications.
So you would think such accolades would warrant induction to the hallowed Hall as soon as The Rattler was eligible? Hell to the Naw; It was easier to find Waldo and Carmen SanDiego playin’ bid whist with Casper and Ralph Ellison!
At the time of his retirement, only Dick “Night Train” Lane and Paul Krause had more interceptions than Riley…
Then there’s the longevity thang – Rattler Riley played 15 seasons, all as a starter – at a position where the average length of time is a shade less than four seasons!
In assessing Riley’s longevity, here are three names to consider:
(all stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.com)
Jimmy Johnson, San Francisco 49ers, 15 years, 213 games played, 47 INTs, 2 TDs – HOF
Darrell Green, Washington, 20 years, 295 games played. 54 INTs, 6TDs – HOF.
Willie Brown, Denver/Oakland, 16 years, 204 games played, 54 INTs, 2TDs – HOF
Now compare these to Riley’s stats: Fifteen seasons, 207 games played, 65 INTs, 5 TDS
If numbers don’t lie, then a sad truth has been perpetrated – for years; and it starts at ‘home’…
The process behind the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction, once it comes down to final selection, is about the so-called “smoke – filled room.” Two writers from every NFL city into the room and those connected with said team make the argument for why “their guy” belongs…
There is a lot of quid pro quo because each city’s selectors work to elevate “their guys” – and while the politics make some sense in terms of the finite number allowed for induction, the efforts (or lack of) by those voices for each city say more about the organization’s desire to recognize their charges…
There are currently three Cincinnati Bengals currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Charlie Joiner (three seasons in Cincinnati) Terrell Owens (one year in Cincy) and Anthony Munoz (185 games, 11 first team All-Pro status, HOF ). Only one – Munoz – stayed a Bengal until retirement, yet his number 78 was never retired!
Their first – ever selected player, center Bob Johnson, is the only Bengal player whose #54 is retired…
So the Cincinnati Enquirer and other Kentucky area media concerns are not putting in any real work for a bona fide Hall of Famer like Riley.
OF COURSE THERE ARE OTHERS!
Good arguments can be made for WRs Isaac Curtis and Carl Pickens, tailback Corey Dillon, MLB Bill Bergey, OLB Reggie Williams and CB Lemar Parrish – but strong reasoning on why QB Ken Andersen and Riley should be mandatory in adding them to the roll in Canton, Ohio.
Long before Darrelle Revis discovered his “island” and long before anyone’s time was “Prime”, Riley was a shutdown corner, quietly and efficiently locking down his side of the field – while not even performing at his best position!
Clearly, no one in Cincinnati seemed to recognize this reality – especially with the Rattler snagging his career high in picks (8) in his last season!
It would seem no one came to The Rattler’s defense; and then comes the NFL’s bullshit with their 100th anniversary…
Twenty picks were selected for Canton, and some selections were used as means of redress; but when the smoke cleared, Riley and some significant others – were left out in the cold. Dayyum! Is it true that the ‘shy guy never gets the pie?’ The Shield wants to carry yourself with a certain deportment, but they ‘reward’ you with silence and inaction?
Politics notwithstanding, your career should stand on its own. Riley’s does; but I dare say no one in Cincy gives enough of a fuck to honor him. One would believe certain other clubs would be more proactive in pumping up their former charges, but this clearly ain’t the case in River City!
Now that The Rattler is no longer on this mortal coil, maybe someone in Cincinnati finally wakes the fuck up.
Always outnumbered…never outgunned.
Copyright (c) 2020 Michael – Louis Ingram all rights reserved.