Leroy Kelly

Last updated

Leroy Kelly
Leroy Kelly 1971.jpg
Kelly playing for the Browns in 1971
No. 44
Position: Running back
Personal information
Born: (1942-05-20) May 20, 1942 (age 80)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Career information
High school: Philadelphia (PA) Gratz
College: Morgan State
NFL Draft: 1964  / Round: 8 / Pick: 110
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:7,274
Player stats at NFL.com  ·  PFR

Leroy Kelly (born May 20, 1942) is a former American football player. A Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, he played for the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League (NFL) from 1964 to 1973. [1]



Kelly had attended Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia and Morgan State University in Baltimore. [2] He was selected by the Browns in the eighth round of the 1964 NFL Draft. [3] As a Cleveland rookie he was a key return man, averaging 24.3 yards per return and contributing to the Browns' 1964 NFL championship, and backup running back behind featured fullback Jim Brown and blocking halfback Ernie Green. [4] He moved up to become the Browns' featured running back after Brown's retirement at the end of the 1965 season.

When Jim Brown retired before the 1966 season, Kelly became the starter. For the next three years, he rushed for 1,000 yards, [5] led the NFL in rushing touchdowns, [6] and won All-NFL and starting Pro Bowl honors. Kelly also played in three other Pro Bowls following the 1969, 1970 and 1971 seasons, and earned first-team All-NFL in 1969 and 1971. [7] In 1968, he scored a touchdown in a franchise-record 12 games, and two-or-more touchdowns in a franchise-record 7. In game 12 of the 1970 season, he passed Bill Brown as the career rushing-yards leader among active players, a position he maintained until his retirement in 1974. Kelly led the NFL in rushing for two consecutive seasons (1967–1968). He also was a talented punt and kick returner, who averaged 10.5 yards per punt return and 23.5 yards per kick return for his career. [8]

Kelly ended his pro career with the Chicago Fire of the World Football League in 1974, rushing for 315 yards (4.1 average) and catching 8 passes for 128 yards (16.0 average). [9]

At the time of his retirement Kelly, had rushed for 7,274 yards (then 4th all-time to Jim Brown, Joe Perry, and Jim Taylor) [10] and 74 touchdowns (3rd) [11] on 1,727 carries for 4.2 yards per carry. He also caught 190 passes for 2,281 yards and 13 touchdowns. [12] On special teams, he returned 94 punts for 990 yards and 3 touchdowns, and 76 kickoffs for 1,784 yards. Overall, he gained 12,330 all-purpose yards and scored 90 touchdowns. He was named All-NFL five times and to six Pro Bowls. [13]

After his retirement as an active player, he remained in the World Football League as the Philadelphia Bell's offensive backfield coach, joining two other Hall of Famers on that staff, former Green Bay Packers defensive backfield standouts Willie Wood (the first black head coach in pro football history) and Herb Adderley (defensive coordinator). [14]

Kelly was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994. [15]



Pat Kelly, his younger brother, was an All-Star outfielder who played for five teams during a 15-year Major League Baseball career. [16] Felicia Kelly, only daughter, worked in news 20 years at WEWS Newschannel 5; engineering department, news source reporter, hosted a half-hour entertainment show called,"The Set" in Cleveland, Ohio. Now an educator in the Cleveland Public School System. David Kelly, his eldest son, is sports anchor and reporter for KMSB-TV in Tucson, Arizona. Leroy Kelly II his second son, played 3 years in the American Indoor Football League and 1 year overseas in the GFL Germany League For the Kiel-Baltic Hurricanes. Leroy Kelly II was invited to 2 workouts with the Cleveland Browns and 1 with the Detroit Lions. [17]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Floyd Little</span> American football player (1942–2021)

Floyd Douglas Little was an American professional football player who was a halfback for the Denver Broncos, initially in the American Football League (AFL) and later the National Football League (NFL). He was a three-time All-American at Syracuse University, and in 1967 was the sixth selection of the 1967 NFL/AFL draft, the first common draft. He was the first first-round draft pick to sign with the AFL's Broncos, where he was known as "the Franchise". Little was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jim Brown</span> American football player and actor (born 1936)

James Nathaniel Brown is a former American football player, sports analyst and actor. He played as a fullback for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) from 1957 through 1965. Considered to be one of the greatest running backs of all time, as well as one of the greatest players in NFL history, Brown was a Pro Bowl invitee every season he was in the league, was recognized as the AP NFL Most Valuable Player three times, and won an NFL championship with the Browns in 1964. He led the league in rushing yards in eight out of his nine seasons, and by the time he retired, he had shattered most major rushing records. In 2002, he was named by The Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bobby Mitchell</span> American football player and executive (1935–2020)

Robert Cornelius Mitchell was an American professional football player who was a halfback and flanker in the National Football League (NFL) for the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins. Mitchell became the Redskins' first African-American star after joining them in 1962, when they became the last NFL team to integrate. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yale Lary</span> American football player, businessman, and politician (1930–2017)

Robert Yale Lary Sr. was an American football player, businessman, and politician.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George McAfee</span> American football player (1918–2009)

George Anderson McAfee was an American professional football player who was a back for the Chicago Bears from 1940 to 1941 and 1945 to 1950 in the National Football League (NFL). As an undergraduate at Duke University, McAfee starred in baseball and track and field as well as college football. McAfee was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As of 2018, he still holds the NFL record for punt return average in a career.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tommy McDonald (American football)</span> American football player (1934–2018)

Thomas Franklin McDonald was an American football flanker and halfback in the National Football League (NFL) for the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, and Cleveland Browns. He played college football for the Oklahoma Sooners. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Henry Johnson</span> American gridiron football player (1929–2011)

John Henry Johnson was an American professional football player who was a running back. He was known for his excellence at the fullback position as both a runner and a blocker. His first professional stint was in Canada in the Western Interprovincial Football Union for one season with the Calgary Stampeders. He then played in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, and Pittsburgh Steelers before spending his final season in the American Football League (AFL) with the Houston Oilers. Commonly referred to as simply John Henry, an allusion to the folk hero of the same name, Johnson was a tough and tenacious player who performed at a high level well into the tail end of his career.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eric Metcalf</span> American football player (born 1968)

Eric Quinn Metcalf is a former American football player who was primarily known as a return specialist, but played running back and wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) for the Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection for the Browns and the Chargers. He was also the 1988 US Track and Field Champion in the long jump and a two-time NCAA Champion in the same event at the University of Texas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ed Podolak</span> American football player (born 1947)

Edward Joseph Podolak is a former professional American football player, a running back for nine seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League and National Football League.

Homer Carroll Jones is a former American football wide receiver, who played for the National Football League's New York Giants from 1964 to 1969, and for the Cleveland Browns in 1970. During his career, he was known for his considerable size and speed. Fran Tarkenton claimed that he was faster than Dallas Cowboys great Bob Hayes. Jones is credited with inventing the "spike" touchdown celebration.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Earl Morrall</span> American football player (1934–2014)

Earl Edwin Morrall was an American football player who was a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for 21 seasons, both a starter and reserve. In the latter capacity, he became known as one of the greatest backup quarterbacks in NFL history, having served in the capacity for two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Johnny Unitas and Bob Griese. He is most known for helping the Baltimore Colts win Super Bowl V and the Miami Dolphins complete their perfect season, having come off the bench when Griese became injured early in the year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sam Baker (halfback)</span> American football player (1930–2007)

Loris Hoskins Baker, was an American football player in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. While he played several positions, he was best known for being a punter and kicker. He played college football at Oregon State University.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gene Hickerson</span> American football player (1935–2008)

Robert Gene Hickerson was an American Football offensive guard who played for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) in a fifteen-year career from 1958 to 1960 and 1962 to 1973. Hickerson was a six-time Pro Bowler from 1965 to 1970. He was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 4, 2007.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mike Pruitt</span> American football player (born 1954)

Michael L. Pruitt is a former American football player.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dub Jones (American football)</span> American football player and coach (born 1924)

William Augustus "Dub" Jones is a former American football halfback who played ten seasons in the National Football League (NFL) and the old All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily for the Cleveland Browns. He shares the NFL record for touchdowns scored in a single game, with six.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greg Pruitt</span> American football player (born 1951)

Gregory Donald Pruitt is a former American football running back in the National Football League (NFL) from 1973 through 1984. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, four as a member of the Cleveland Browns and one as a member of the Los Angeles Raiders, the last one as a kick returner. He was also part of the Raiders' Super Bowl XVIII winning team, beating the Washington Redskins.

The 1967 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 18th season with the National Football League. The Browns were back in the playoffs after a one-year absence. They finished 9–5, the same as in 1966, but this time, it was good enough for them to get in as they won the Century Division championship in the first year of play after the NFL split the Eastern and Western conferences into two divisions each. The division race was not close, as the Browns finished two games ahead of the runner-up New York Giants (7–7), their old arch rival in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Orban Eugene "Spec" Sanders was an American football running back, quarterback, and punter in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and a defensive back in the National Football League (NFL) for the New York Yanks. He was a Pro Bowler in 1950, his final season, when he led the NFL with a then-record-tying 13 interceptions.

Charles Irving "Charlie" Leigh Sr. was a National Football League (NFL) running back. He was the first and only NFL player to be signed out of high school. He is best known for backing up Larry Csonka and returning kicks for the Miami Dolphins' back to back Super Bowl champions in the 1972 and 1973 seasons. He also played for the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers. He played a total of six seasons in the NFL.


  1. "Leroy Kelly". ProFootballHOF.com. Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  2. "Leroy Kelly enshrined in Black College Football Hall of Fame". morganstatebears.com. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  3. McManamon, Pat (April 20, 2016). "Draft's eighth round gave Browns Hall of Famer Leroy Kelly". ESPN.com. ESPN, Inc. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  4. "Leroy Kelly: Career Stats". NFL.com. NFL Enterprises, LLC. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  5. "Leroy Kelly: Career Stats". NFL.com. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  6. "NFL Rushing Touchdowns Single-Season Leaders". ProFootballReference.com. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  7. "Leroy Kelly learned from Jim Brown, became one of NFL's most feared ball carriers". ClevelandBrowns.com. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  8. "Leroy Kelly Stats". ProFootballReference.com. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  9. "WFL World Football League". Archived from the original on July 15, 2009. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
  10. 1974 Rushing yards career leaderboard
  11. 1974 Rushing TD career leaderboard
  12. "Player BIO". profootballhof.com. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  13. "Leroy Kelly". phillyhall.org. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  14. "And Still Another First". Johnson Publishing Company. November 1975. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  15. "Leroy Kelly, Class of 1994". ProFootballHOF.com. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  16. Rasmussen, Frederick N. "Pat Kelly, 61, outfielder for Orioles, evangelical minister". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  17. Cabot, Mary Kay (May 31, 2012). "Cleveland Browns will try out Leroy Kelly Jr., son of their Hall of Fame running back, on Monday". Cleveland.com. Retrieved July 8, 2019.