Ken Riley’s widow, children, relatives and former players joined President Robinson, VP/AD Tiffani- Dawn Sykes, and head coach Willie Simmons at the naming ceremony.(Credit: Christian Whitaker)
Hall of Famer Ken Riley’s widow, his children and relatives gathered at Bragg Memorial Stadium shortly before the season home opener kick off for the naming of the football field in his honor Saturday.
Ken Riley II, who represented his father at the August induction ceremony, spoke on behalf of the family ahead of the Rattlers’ 31-10 defeat of the University of West Florida Argonauts.
“It’s good to be home,” said Riley, as he stood next to his mother Barbara Riley and other relatives. “It’s a very good feeling to be back here and have the field named after him and have friends and family here. It’s a great honor.”
Riley thanked President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., and Vice President/Athletic Director Tiffani-Dawn Sykes for bestowing the honor on his father. The FAMU Board of Trustees approved the name change request during its June 8 meeting.
“It’s amazing for us to honor Ken Riley, who deserves this,” Robinson said.“What a wonderful institution this is. It has so many great heroes. And Ken Riley is high at the top of the list.”
In addition to the pre-game ceremony, during half time, Tallahassee Mayor John E. Dailey proclaimed Saturday, Sept. 16 Ken Riley Day.
Riley was a standout Rattler quarterback under legendary head coach Alonzo “Jake” Gaither. After he graduated from FAMU, the Bartow, Fla., native was drafted in 1969 by the Cincinnati Bengals and converted to corner back. In 15 seasons with the Bengals, Riley made 65 interceptions, which ranks him fifth overall in NFL history.
After his playing career ended in 1983, Riley was an assistant coach with the Green Bay Packers before being appointed the Rattler head football coach in 1986. During his eight-year tenure, Riley’s teams won two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championships and he was twice named MEAC Coach of the Year.
Riley served as the FAMU athletic director from 1994 to 2003. He died of a heart attack in 2020 at age 72. He was posthumously inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on August 5, 2023.