Bengals Ring of Honor Members Ken Anderson and Ken Riley kept their long-time Pro Football Hall of Fame hopes alive Thursday when they advanced to the semifinals of the revamped senior selection process.
Down through the years the two Bengals have consistently appeared on these names of 25, but this is the first year the senior committee's list of candidates has been released by the Hall. The committee now trims the list to a dozen finalists and also for the first time they'll be announced July 27.
Then in an Aug. 16 virtual meeting, the newly expanded senior committee selects three of the 12 for the senior spots in the finals of the voting for the Hall class of 2023. A few months ago, new Hall president Jim Porter announced the expansion of the committee from nine to 12 and spots for seniors in the finals from one to three.
"Members of the selection committee have made it clear they wanted to get more seniors 'in the room' for discussion," Jim Porter said in an April press release. "From those initial conversations, the team at the Hall of Fame overseeing the selection process worked with the board to create a path for those committee discussions that could lead to possible enshrinement for more seniors."
Take a look at QB Ken Anderson through his years as a Bengal. Anderson is a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023.
Supporters of Riley and Anderson are hoping the changes open the door to the Canton, Ohio shrine for perennially two strong senior candidates in a field composed of players retired for at least 25 years. Riley, the Florida A&M Rattler who went from college quarterback to All-Pro cornerback with 65 pro interceptions, was reportedly nearly picked as the senior nominee in the 2021 balloting. Anderson, the only quarterback with at least four NFL passing titles not in the Hall of Fame, is the only post-World War II quarterback among the semifinalists.
Since Riley retired in 1983 after 15 seasons and a Bengals-record 207 games, only Rod Woodson has passed him on the NFL all-time interceptions list with 71. Charles Woodson tied him with 65 before retiring. Both Woodsons are in the Hall and both played their last several seasons at safety while Riley has racked up the second most interceptions of any pure cornerback.
Anderson, who led the Bengals to their first Super Bowl as the 1981 league MVP, played all 16 of his seasons in Cincinnati, a club record. When he retired before the 1987 season, he was the NFL's all-time leader in completion percentage for a season, a postseason career, and a game with at least 20 attempts.
The other semifinalists:
Linebacker Maxie Baughan, wide receiver Mark Clayton, running back Roger Craig, end LaVern Dilweg, linebacker Randy Gradishar, cornerback Lester Hayes, guard-tackle Chris Hinton, linebacker Chuck Howley, tailback-running back Cecil Isbell, tackle Joe Jacoby, wide receiver Billie "White Shoes" Johnson, defensive tackle Mike Kenn, defensive end Joe Klecko, offensive linemen Bob Kuechenberg, tackle George Kunz, defensive end Jim Marshall, linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., cornerback Eddie Meador, wide receiver Stanley Morgan, linebacker Tommy Nobis, wide receiver Sterling Sharpe, wide receiver Otis Taylor and cornerback Everson Walls. None of them played after 1996.
Riley is one of four cornerbacks that made the semifinals. Walls had 40 interceptions in 13 seasons and when he was a Cowboy led the NFL in interceptions three times. Meador, a member of the 1960s all-decade team, played all 12 seasons in Los Angeles and holds the Rams record with 46 interceptions. Hayes made five Pro Bowls in ten seasons and 39 interceptions with the Raiders.
Take a look at CB Ken Riley through the years. Riley is a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023.