As we continue our series on the 50 Greatest Browns, we are happy to profile Leroy Kelly. We hope you have enjoyed the previous articles ranking players 50 – 9. As always, if you haven’t read those make sure to check them out.
Leroy Kelly was drafted by the Browns in the 8th round of the 1964 Draft. He was a backup to Jim Brown until Brown’s retirement. In Kelly’s rookie season in 1964, he was used as a return man and a role player on the team that would win an NFL Championship.
When Jim Brown retired prior to the 1966 season, it opened the door for Kelly to become the featured back on the Browns offense. He did not disappoint, as in 1966 he made it to the first of six Pro Bowls and led the NFL in rushing touchdowns. His 1966 season was his best all-around year as he had the most all-purpose yards in his career by a wide margin when he amassed 2,014 total yards.
In his 10 year career, he rushed for 7,274 yards and 74 touchdowns on 1,727 attempts. Additionally, because of his time spent as a return ma,n he accumulated 12,330 all-purpose yards. He was the third in a line of great Browns running backs along with Marion Motley and Jim Brown. After his 10 years in the NFL with the Browns, Kelly played for one season with the World Football League’s Chicago Fire.
In 1994 he was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
On a personal note, Leroy Kelly was my father’s favorite player on the Browns. When I was a kid my father would tell me stories of watching Kelly play and he would describe how great of a back Kelly was.
We hope that you enjoyed this article and learned something about one of the greatest Browns to ever play. In our next article, we will unveil player #7 on our list, see you next time!