Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Score Two for the Cincinnati Bengals

By Clark Judge 

Ken Anderson (L) and Ken Riley (R)

Score two for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Former Bengals’ cornerback Ken Riley and quarterback Ken Anderson are two of the 12 senior finalists revealed Wednesday for the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame’s Class of 2023, and, yes, that’s a big deal. The reason: Only one player, former tackle Anthony Munoz, represents the Bengals in Canton.


Now that number may be doubled. That’s because unlike previous years, the Hall will propose three candidates for induction in each of the next three years. The past two years it was one per annum.

Of the two Bengals, Riley seems the more attractive candidate for two reasons: 1) He was a senior runner-up two years ago when Drew Pearson was elected, and 2) he ranks fifth in all-time interceptions, tying him with Charles Woodson. Woodson was a first-ballot enshrinee in 2021.

Furthermore, of the top seven NFL leaders in career interceptions, only one has not been inducted. Ken Riley, come on down.

Of course, Riley will have competition … and not just from Anderson. Take a look at the 12 senior finalists, and tell me who doesn’t belong:

  • QB Ken Anderson, (1971-86).
  • LB Maxie Baughan, (1960-70, 1974).
  • LB Randy Gradishar, (1974-83).
  • LB Chuck Howley, (1958-59, 1961-73).
  • TB/DB/HB, P Cecil Isbell, (1938-42).
  • DT Joe Klecko, (1977-88).
  • OL Bob Kuechenberg, (1970-83).
  • S Eddie Meador (1959-70).
  • LB Tommy Nobis (1966-76).
  • CB Ken Riley, (1969-83)
  • WR Sterling Sharpe, (1988-94).
  • CB Everson Walls, (1981-93).

Now, a handful of observations:


Eight candidates, or three-quarters of the field, come from that side of the ball, with linebacker (four) the most popular position. The competition there will be stiff, with Maxie Baughan, Chuck Howley, Randy Gradishar and Tommy Nobis the choices.


Cecil Isbell

Only one finalist, former Packers’ star Cecil Isbell, played all or most of his career before 1960. Isbell was one of two pre-‘60s’ finalists among the 25 semifinalists named earlier this month. Former Packers’ end Lavvie Dilweg, a first-team All-Pro his first five seasons, was the other. He didn’t make the next cut.


Sterling Sharpe is one of the 12, and while that might not seem like an upset, this marks his first appearance as a Hall finalist. Sharpe has the resume for Canton (five Pro Bowls, three first-team All-Pro designations and 18 TDs in one season), but a short career (seven years) and no championships may have contributed to voters’ previous disinterest. Not anymore. He was the only one of six receiver candidates chosen, outlasting Dilweg, Stanley Morgan, Otis Taylor, Mark Clayton and Billy “White Shoes” Johnson (also a return specialist).


There’s one: Miami’s Bob Kuechenberg. So what happened to Joe Jacoby, Mike Kenn, George Kuhn and Chris Hinton? Nothing, that’s what. All didn’t make the cut, yet all are Hall-of-Fame worthy. In fact, Jacoby was a three-time modern-era finalist (2016-18) and a Top 10 finisher in 2016.  But he couldn’t crack this group. Kuechenberg did, and hallelujah. The guy was an eight-time modern-era finalist and should’ve been elected to Canton years ago.


There were 20 named to the Centennial Class of 2020, with 10 inducted. That meant 10 were not. Of that group, five – or half—aren’t among the Class of 2023 finalists. They are Dilweg, running back Roger Craig, offensive lineman/linebacker Ox Emerson, halfback Verne Lewellen and offensive and defensive lineman Al Wistert. Lewellen, Wistert and Emerson didn’t even make the first cut.


The seniors committee will meet virtually on Aug. 16 to consider all 12 candidates, with three chosen for the Class of 2023. That doesn’t mean they’ve been elected. It simply means they will be presented to the Hall’s 49-member board of selectors when it convenes in early 2023. 


  1. pretty good set of 12, Walls and not Hayes, and Isbell and not Dilweg were two surprises to me, Jacoby is certainly deserving and hopefully will get considered in near future, my prediction of 3 is Gradishar, Riley, Klecko with Howley, Meador and Sharpe as wildcards

  2. From Brian wolf ...

    No Dilweg but not surprised.
    Hopefully the linebackers dont cancel each other out ...

    2023 Wishlist


    2023 Prediction


    Seeing Modell and another Rooney makes me queasy in terms of contributors but hopefully its a coach like Parker or Coryell. Reeves is a darkhorse.

    1. Wolf again ... Forgot about Meador and revised on other sites. Hope to read more from you Clark on this site ... Is Talkoffamenetwork no more ?

  3. I'm a new reader here and hope you don't mind the question: am I missing something about Ken Riley? I realize he's been in the mix for a while to the point that I feel like he's going to be elected eventually if not this year. I know he had a ton of interceptions...but shouldn't a hall of famer have been named to a pro bowl or two? Was he really HOF level? He's a tad before my time and I don't want to be unfair to him, but I'm also aware of Lemar Parrish on the other side of the field, who went to a ton of pro bowls and was also a great special teamer. Why no love for Parrish and such strong support for Riley?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. From what players of that era say, Parrish was flash and excitement. The best punt and KR man of his era. Riley was the coverage and the int’s. Riley was also very quiet and humble, no flash. He was a three time all-pro.

  4. From Brian wolf ...

    Riley somewhat, is recognized for staying with his team his entire career, while Parrish is punished for leaving it but Paul Brown was still in the 1950's in regards to player rights, movement and compensation ... things that former Brown, and Brown's player, Bernie Parrish championed while trying to get union lawyer Marvin Miller to help pro football players before he helped pro baseball players.

    According to older Bengals fans, Riley was considered similar to Deion Sanders, in which he didnt like bringing an opposing player down to the turf or getting his jersey dirty but former Raider coach John Madden swore in Riley's ability to swoop in and break up passes. Parrish was compared to the levels of skills and big scoring plays in multiple ways, like Sanders as well ...

    Rattlesnake forced alot of turnovers and incompletions and has some momentum ...

    1. Will admit I underestimated union champion Marvin Miller, he was helping and changing for baseball players well before trying to be recruited and pilfered by union champion, Bernie Parrish but without Curt Flood, Miller cant gain true momentum in pro baseball.

  5. Anderson and Gradishar have identical career profiles in that both were considered one of the best at their respective positions and yet when they retired were pretty much overlooked while many of their peers were inducted. Joe Jacoby seems to have the same fate. I think Meador and Kuechenberg are also very deserving.

  6. Anderson and Gradishar need to go in this year.