Leroy Kelly
refer to caption
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
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]


  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.