A pair of Kens will complete the Cincinnati Bengals' inaugural Ring of Honor induction class. The team announced that former quarterback Ken Anderson and former cornerback Ken Riley will join team founder/coach Paul Brown and Hall of Fame offensive tackle Anthony Munoz. The class will be honored in a ceremony that will take place at halftime of the Bengals' Thursday night home game against the Jaguars on Sept. 30.
The Bengals announced in April that Brown and Munoz would be part of the franchise's inaugural class. They also announced that season ticket holders would be able to vote amongst 17 finalists for the final two spots. The season ticket holders ultimately chose Anderson and Riley, who each played instrumental roles in the team's early success during the 1970s and early '80s.
Anderson, the team's quarterback from 1971-86, earned four Pro Bowls while guiding the Bengals to two division titles and four playoff appearances. In 1981, Anderson won league MVP and Comeback Player of the Year honors while guiding the Bengals to their first Super Bowl. Though Cincinnati came up short in Super Bowl XVI, Anderson threw for 300 yards while scoring three touchdowns in helping the Bengals claw back from a 20-0 halftime deficit. Two 49ers field goals in the second half -- along with a dramatic goal-line stand -- preserved San Francisco's 26-21 victory. The franchise's all-time leading passer, Anderson's 91 career regular season victories is also a franchise record.
"The Bengals organization is very special to me, and I'm so proud to be a part of the inaugural class," Anderson said, via the Bengals' website. "We have a great football tradition. It's one of winning, it's one of playing hard. That goes back to the Paul Brown days. I'm glad that can be recognized. I think back to those days because I think those days are coming again."
Riley, who spent his entire 15-year career with the Bengals, retired with the third-most interceptions in league history. His 65 career interceptions is currently tied with 2021 Hall of Fame inductee Charles Woodson for the fifth-highest total in league annals. Riley, who recorded five interceptions during the Bengals' first Super Bowl season, led the NFL in interception returns for scores in each of the next two seasons. Riley was tabbed as an All-Pro during his final season after picking off eight passes, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
"The Ring of Honor is the Mount Rushmore for the Bengals," Riley's son, Ken Riley II, told the team's website. "It's incredible for my father to be included in the inaugural class. To be recognized by the fans, that makes it even more special. My father would receive so much love every time he came back to Cincinnati, and to have them vote him in makes it that much sweeter."
The first member of the Bengals' Ring of Honor, Munoz is arguably the greatest left tackle in NFL history. The third overall pick in the 1980 draft, Munoz was a nine-time All-Pro and a Pro Bowler each season from 1981-91. He played an integral role on the '81 and '88 teams that faced the 49ers in the Super Bowl.
"Very humbling but very exciting," Munoz said of the honor back in April. "I was here 10 years with [Paul Brown]. The longer you're out of the game, the more you learn and understand what the guy did for the game. It's amazing. You're talking every day he was around. I don't think there was a day until he got sick that he wasn't around. Every trip. Every day of camp.
"To know I had a chance to spend 10 of my 13 years around him every day was amazing. Now you get a chance to go into this Ring of Honor with him and it's pretty cool. It is really exciting. It's an honor. The organization has had some amazing, amazing players over the 50–plus years of existence. I think this is great because now we get to celebrate all the guys and that's what it's all about."
A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brown led the Cleveland Browns to three NFL championships during the 1950s before founding the Bengals in 1968. In 1970 (the first year of the AFL-NFL merger), Brown led the Bengals to the franchise's first division title. After stepping down as coach after the 1975 season, Brown constructed two Super Bowl rosters while remaining in his role as general manager, a role he filled through the 1990 season.