LEROY KELLY

LEROY KELLY

Class of 1994
Running Back >>> 6-0, 202
(Morgan State)
1964-1973 Cleveland Browns

Leroy Kelly ... Eighth-round draft choice, 1964 ... 1,000-yard rusher first three years after becoming regular in 1966 ... Won NFL rushing titles, 1967, 1968 ... Two-time punt return champion: 1965 NFL, 1971 AFC ... All-NFL five years, named to six Pro Bowls ... Career stats: 7,274 yards rushing; 2,281 reception yards; 2,774 return yards; 12,330 combined yards; 90 touchdowns ... Born May 20, 1942, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Leroy Kelly, in a 10-year tenure with the Cleveland Browns from 1964 through 1973, established himself as one of the most feared ball carriers in the history of the National Football League.

Overall, he rushed for 7,274 yards and ranked among the top 20 all-time rushers until midway through 1993 season. He added 2,281 yards on 190 pass receptions and excelled as a punt and kickoff return specialist, particularly in his early years in the NFL. His combined net yards total of 12,330 on rushes, receptions and returns ranks him among the best ever.

Kelly was an eighth-round pick of the Browns in the 1964 draft after a fine four-year career at Morgan State. For his first two years, he was an understudy to Jim Brown, the most prolific ground-gainer in history up to that time. When Brown retired just before the 1966 campaign, Kelly filled the void in a manner seldom seen in pro football circles.

For the next three years, he rushed for 1,000 yards, winning All-NFL honors each year and being selected as a starter in three straight Pro Bowls. 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.

During his career, he won four individual statistical championships, including NFL rushing titles in 1967 and 1968. In 1965, he won the NFL punt return title, an honor he repeated in the AFC in 1971. Noted as an exceptionally fine runner on muddy fields, the 6-0, 202-pound Kelly favored the famed Browns trap play up the middle for his major yardage ventures but he was equally devastating on sweeps or as a receiver. His quick-starting ability, along with a sense of balance and knack of evading direct hits by tacklers, kept him relatively injury-free, missing only four games in 10 years and never more than one game per season.

Year
Team
G
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
1964 Cleveland
14
6
12
2
0
0
0
---
0
1965 Cleveland
13
37
139
3.8
0
9
122
13.6
0
1966 Cleveland
14
209
1141
5.5
15
32
366
11.4
1
1967 Cleveland
14
235
1205
5.1
11
20
282
14.1
2
1968 Cleveland
14
248
1239
5
16
22
297
13.5
4
1969 Cleveland
13
196
817
4.2
9
20
267
13.4
1
1970 Cleveland
13
206
656
3.2
6
24
311
13
2
1971 Cleveland
14
234
865
3.7
10
25
252
10.1
2
1972 Cleveland
14
224
811
3.6
4
23
204
8.9
1
1973 Cleveland
13
132
389
2.9
3
15
180
12
0
Career Total
136
1,727
7,274
4.2
74
190
2,281
12
13
 
Year
Team
G
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
1964 Cleveland
14
9
171
19
1
1965 Cleveland
13
17
265
15.6
2
1966 Cleveland
14
13
104
8
0
1967 Cleveland
14
9
59
6.6
0
1968 Cleveland
14
1
9
9
0
1969 Cleveland
13
7
28
4
0
1970 Cleveland
13
2
15
7.5
0
1971 Cleveland
14
30
292
9.7
0
1972 Cleveland
14
5
40
8
0
1973 Cleveland
13
1
7
7
0
Career Total
136
94
990
10.5
3
 
 
Additional Career Statistics: Passing: 16-3-93, 2 TDs; Kickoff Returns: 76-1784; Punting: 10-407

Championship Games

1964 NFL Cleveland Browns 27, Baltimore Colts 0
Kelly did not start the game but did play at running back. He did not produce any statistics.

1965 NFL – Green Bay Packers 23, Cleveland Browns 12
Kelly did not start but returned one kickoff for 46 yards.

1968 NFL – Baltimore Colts 34, Cleveland Browns 0
Kelly started at running back. He had 13 carries for 28 yards, caught three passes for 27 yards and recovered one fumble.

1969 NFL – Minnesota Vikings 27, Cleveland Browns 7
Kelly started at running back. He ran the ball 15 times for 80 yards, caught two passes for 17 yards and fumbled twice. He also returned two Punts for 10 yards and recovered one fumble.
 

All-NFL: 1966 (AP, UPI, NEA, PFWA, NY), 1967 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY), 1968 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY, PW), 1969 (NEA), 1971 (NEA)

All-NFL Second Team: 1969 (AP, UPI, NY), 1971 (PFWA)

All-Pro: 1968 (PFWA), 1969 (NEA)

All-Pro Second Team: 1969 (HOF, PFWA)

All-AFC Second Team: 1971 (UPI)

All-Eastern Conference: 1966 (SN), 1967 (SN), 1968 (SN)

(6) – 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972

(at time of his retirement following 1973 season)

 

• [2nd] Most Games 100 or More Yards Rushing, Career – 27
• [2nd] Most Consecutive Games, Rushing Touchdown – 9 (1968)
• [3rd] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Career – 74
• [3rd] Most Combined Net Attempts, Career – 2,097
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Touchdowns, Season – 20 (1968)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Consecutive Seasons Leading League, Rushing – 2 (1967-68)
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Seasons, 1,000 or More Yards Rushing – 3
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Season – 16 (1968)

Browns' records held by Kelly at the time of his retirement following the 1973 season

 

• [1st] Most Consecutive Games with a Rushing Touchdown – 9 (1968)
• [1st] Most Punt Returns, Career – 94
• [1st] Most Punt Returns, Season – 30 (1971)
• [1st] Most Punt Return Yards, Career – 990
• [1st] Most Punt Return Yards, Game – 109 (vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 28, 1965)
• [1st] Highest Punt Return Average, Career – 15.6
• [1st] Most Punt Return Touchdowns, Season – 2 (1965)
• [1st] Most Kickoff Returns, Career – 76
• [1st] Most Kickoff Return Yards, Career – 1,781
• [1st] Highest Kickoff Return Average, Game – 37.0 (vs. St. Louis, Sept. 26, 1965)
• [1st] Highest Combined Net Yard Average, Game – 14.95 (vs. New York Giants, Dec. 4, 1966)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Seasons Leading the NFL in Punt Return Average – 1 (1965)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Seasons Leading the NFL in Punt Return Touchdowns – 1 (1965)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Seasons Leading the NFL in Punt Return Yardage – 1 (1965)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Seasons Leading the NFL in Scoring – 1 (1968)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Seasons Leading the NFL in Average Rushing Gain – 2 (1966-67)
• [Tied for 1st] Most Punt Return Touchdowns, Career – 3
• [Tied for 1st] Most Punt Return Touchdowns, Game – 1 (vs. New York Giants, Oct. 25, 1964; vs. Dallas, Nov. 21, 1965; vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 28, 1965)
• [2nd] Most Points, Season – 120 (1968)
• [2nd] Most Seasons Leading the NFL in Touchdowns – 2 (1966, 1968)
• [2nd] Most Touchdowns, Career – 90
• [2nd] Most Touchdowns, Season – 20 (1968)
• [2nd] Most Consecutive Games Scoring Touchdowns – 9 (1968)
• [2nd] Most Seasons Leading the NFL in Rushing Attempts – 2 (1967-68)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Career – 1,727
• [2nd] Most Seasons Leading the NFL in Rushing Yards – 2 (1967-68)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Yards , Career – 7,274
• [2nd] Highest Average Rushing Gain, Career – 4.21
• [2nd] Most Seasons Leading the NFL in Rushing Touchdowns – 3 (1966-68)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Career – 74
• [2nd] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Season – 16 (1968)
• [2nd] Most Punt Return Yards, Season – 292 (1971)
• [2nd] Longest Punt Return – 78 (vs. Denver, Oct. 24, 1971)
• [2nd] Highest Kickoff Return Average, Game – 34.0 (vs. Philadelphia, Nov. 7, 1965; vs. New York Giants, Dec. 4, 1966)
• [2nd] Most Combined Attempts, Career – 1,987
• [2nd] Most Combined Net Yards, Career – 12,329
• [2nd] Most Combined Net Yards, Season – 2,014 (1966)
• [2nd] Most Combined Net Yards, Game – 299 (vs. New York Giants, Dec. 4, 1966)
• [Tied for 2nd] Highest Punt Return Average, Game – 27.3 (vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 28, 1965)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Game – 4 (vs. New York Giants, Dec. 1, 1968)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Kickoff Returns, Game – 5 (vs. Philadelphia, Dec. 11, 1966)

League Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 1967, 1968
Scoring Titles: 1968
Touchdown Titles: 1966, 1968

Team Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972
Scoring Titles: 1966, 1967, 1968
Punt Return Titles: 1964, 1965, 1966, 1971
Kickoff Return Titles: 1965

• 1968 Most Valuable Player (MX)
• 1960s All-Decade Team

Year Team W L T Division Finish
1964 Cleveland Browns 10 3 1 (1st)
1965 Cleveland Browns 11 3 0 (5th)
1966 Cleveland Browns 9 5 0 (2nd)
1967 Cleveland Browns 9 5 0 (1st)
1968 Cleveland Browns 10 4 0 (1st)
1969 Cleveland Browns 10 3 1 (1st)
1970 Cleveland Browns 7 7 0 (2nd)
1971 Cleveland Browns 9 5 0 (1st)
1972 Cleveland Browns 10 4 0 (2nd)
1973 Cleveland Browns 7 5 2 (3rd)

Full Name: Leroy Kelly

Birthdate: May 20, 1942

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

High School: Simon Gratz (Philadelphia)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 29, 1994

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 30, 1994

Presenter: Chuck Heaton, retired sportswriter, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Other Members of Class of 1994: Tony Dorsett, Bud Grant, Jimmy Johnson, Jackie Smith, Randy White

Pro Career: 10 Seasons, 136 games

Drafted: 8th round (110th player overall) in 1964 by Cleveland Browns

Uniform Number: 44
 

Pro Football Hall of Fame
July 30, 1994
 

Chuck Heaton (presenter):
Thank you. All you folks are probably wondering what a beat up sports writer is doing here making a presentation at the Hall of Fame. But if during your career in writing, you are kind to players and be objective in your writing, sometimes they like you. And that happened to me and I was very happy when Leroy Kelly asked me to be his presenter at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Sid Hartman felt the same about Bud Grant. I told Leroy, so for the first time a person selected to the Hall had named a member of the selection committee for such a task.
 

I also told Leroy that such a person was really not needed in this case because all you people out there knew what he had done for pro football either in the seats in Cleveland Stadium or on your television sets. There were 90 touchdowns. You witnessed his 1,000-yard seasons, his five Pro Bowl appearances. You watched those dazzling runs; you saw those 174 yards against the San Francisco 4gers in 1968. All this might not have happened if Leroy didn't have the strong support of the late Buddy Young. He was a scout for the Baltimore Colts who didn't need any backs, but Buddy called Art Modell and persuaded him to take Leroy in the 8th round in the draft in 1964 even though they had the great Jim Brown. Kelly had his organized sports start in Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia and before that time he was in the sand lots all the time for all sports. He was a kickoff man, a punter, the kick return man, the middle linebacker and the quarterback at Simon Gratz. Upon graduation from high school he won three letters in football and baseball, was the district's selection as all-city quarterback and shortstop. He was only 6-foot tall and weighed just 180 lbs. at that time so he took a one half scholarship and a job that was offered by Morgan State. Morgan State football coach Earl Banks immediately shifted him from quarterback to running back and he continued to also play defensive back. He wound up as co-captain on the Morgan State team and won most valuable player honors in the Orange Bowl Classic.

The Browns weren't looking for a back but Young called and Kelly was still available so Art Modell took him. Young told Modell Kelly had the same moves as Jim Brown which proved so true. Kelly was a real bargain for the Browns by today's financial standards. He signed for $17,000 that included his signing bonus. He made that 1964 championship team as a special teams player. He started only one game in the same backfield as Jim Brown, but he watched and was ready when Jim Brown retired in 1966. The Browns were somewhat shocked when Jim Brown decided on a film career in the summer of 1966, but not Doug Jones the fine defensive coach. We have Leroy Kelly and we will do just fine said Doug.

Kelly responded, 1,141 yards rushing that season, averaged 7.4 yards and 16 touchdowns. Kelly is the 13th Brown to stand up here and be accepted into the Hall of Fame. A running back, he has suitable companions Jim Brown and Marion Motley. It is indeed a great pleasure to present my good friend over the years, Leroy Kelly for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Leroy Kelly:
You know there are some people you meet for the first time and you just like them from the start and that was Chuck Heaton. I respect Chuck as a person first and then as a writer and as a human being, that’s why I asked him to be my presenter. Thank you very much Chuck.

You know I know my family is very proud of me but I would like to take this opportunity to let them know how proud I am of them. I have three brothers and I have three sisters. My oldest brother Samson Kelly, my brother Ulysses Kelly, my sister Dorothy Allen, my sister Elizabeth Allen, my sister May Kelly. I have a younger brother who played 13 years in Major League Baseball whom I am very proud of. He has his own ministry and this last month he was down at a seminar with Billy Graham to learn more on how to spread the word of God around this world, that’s my brother Harold Patrick Kelly. It just happens today is his birthday. I just want to wish him a happy birthday.

There’s so many people that have been instrumental in the success of Leroy Kelly starting with my high school coach Mr. Lou Devicaris who eventually became the principal of Martin Luther King High School in Philadelphia. If it wasn't for Mr. D I don't think I would have went to college. Colleges (weren’t) knocking down my door when I graduated from high school. Mr. D went the second mile for me. He wrote several colleges and obtained a partial scholarship to Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland. When I got down there another coach by the name of Earl Banks was there. He didn't take him long to get a team together and by my junior year we became CIAA champs. Earl Banks is not here with us today, but I know he’d be very proud of the job he did with me in college.

After I left Morgan, I was drafted by the Cleveland Browns as an 8th round draft choice. When I got to Cleveland I meant another coach by the name of Blanton Collier who took over from there. They had a mini camp and I didn't know if the Browns wanted to use me as an offensive back or defensive back because I played both ways in college. We had a mini camp in May my first year and after the mini camp, Blant said I want you to go home and put on a few pounds because I want to use you as a running back. So I went home and gained about 10 pounds. When I got to camp in July an unfortunate thing happened to me. The third day in camp I think it was that Thursday, I pulled a hamstring. And two people who were instrumental in helping me was our trainer Leo Murphy and Jim Brown. Jim Brown persuaded Blanton Collier to let me rest my pulled hamstring, which is not very normal for a rookie. So I rested my pulled hamstring for about two weeks and with expert trainer, Leo Murphy, my leg got very well. I could say the rest is history, but I am not at the end my speech right here.

So many people like teammates in high school, in college, professional that is the reason why I am here today. I’m not going to start naming them because I would be up here all day. But I just want to tell them, I want them to share this honor with me. It is a great honor and it has made me very happy and very proud to be one of the 1994 inductees into the National Football League Pro Hall of Fame.

I want to thank all my coaches all my high school coaches, starting with my JV coach Mr. Kean, Mr. Lou Devicaris, Mr. Bauder. A lot of my college coaches are not here today, Earl Banks, Brutis Wilson, Kim Brown, and all my professional coaches, Blanton Collier, Doug Jones, Fritz Heisler, Eddie Ulinski, Al Tabor, Nick Skorich, David Crow, thank you.
Last but not least, Art Modell, I want to thank you for always running a first class organization. The Cleveland Browns organization. I want to thank all the loyal Cleveland Browns fans. And to my right are not the bleachers, but I want to thank the “Dawg” Pound.

Thank you very much.


 

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