Ken Anderson, late Ken Riley to join Cincinnati Bengals' inaugural Ring of Honor class

CINCINNATI -- Two Cincinnati Bengals legends will finally get the recognition many fans believe they deserve.

Former quarterback Ken Anderson and former cornerback Ken Riley will be inducted into the team's inaugural Ring of Honor, the team announced Thursday morning. Anderson and Riley will join team founder Paul Brown and former offensive lineman Anthony Muñoz. The four-man class will be formally inducted at halftime of the team's Sept. 30 home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"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," Anderson said in a virtual news conference on Thursday. "I'm really glad we can focus on that."

Anderson and Riley were part of a 17-man ballot voted upon by the team's season-ticket holders. Bengals executive Elizabeth Blackburn, who spearheaded the effort to create the Ring of Honor, said Anderson and Riley were the "clear top two vote-getters." The team declined to disclose the number of total votes.

Anderson and Riley have long been considered the Bengals most deserving of a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame alongside Brown and Muñoz, the team's lone player currently in Canton. Brown and Muñoz were automatic inclusions into the inaugural Ring of Honor class when its creation was announced in April.

Anderson was a Bengal for the entirety of a career that spanned from 1971 to 1986. The 1981 NFL MVP was a four-time Pro Bowl selection who made 192 starts. He led the league in completion percentage in the 1982 and 1983 seasons.

Riley, who died last June, was with the Bengals for his entire 15-year career. From 1969 to 1983, the former Florida A&M standout started 207 games. He is tied for fifth in NFL history with 65 career interceptions. Riley is the only one in the top eight in that category not to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Ken Riley II said his father kept the possibility of a Ring of Honor induction in the back of his mind. While Riley said it was bittersweet his father wasn't alive to accept the honor, he said he hopes the recognition sparks more conversation about the former Bengals cornerback and other team legends who have been overlooked over the years.

"Hopefully this can be the start that the Bengals are recognizing their greats," Riley said, "and it's something that can propel them to hopefully the Pro Football Hall of Fame."