Hall of Fame running back Leroy Kelly is the best NFL athlete to ever wear the uniform number 44. Coming to the NFL in 1964 after being taken in the eighth round of the draft, out of Morgan State, Kelly was not an immediate superstar in professional football. He was only given the ball six times. He gained twelve yards on those six carries. There was this guy by the name of Jim Brown ahead of him on the depth chart at running back. He did, however, return one punt for a touchdown during his rookie year.
In his second NFL year, Kelly was primarily a return man, but also carried the football from the backfield several more times (37 carries for 139 yards). He doubled his punt return touchdowns from his rookie season, scoring two.
The retirement of all-time great running back Jim Brown gave Kelly the opportunity he needed to strut his stuff as a running back. In 1966, Kelly rushed 209 times for 1,141 yards and a league-leading 15 rushing touchdowns. He followed that year up with another year leading the league in rushing touchdowns with 11, and rushing yards with 1,205. What did he do the following year? Lead the league, of course. He had 16 rushing touchdowns in 1968 to go along with a league-best 1,239 rushing yards.
- 6-time Pro Bowler
- 5-time All Pro
- 1994 Hall of Fame Inductee
- Led NFL in rushing yards twice
- Led NFL in rushing TDs three times
- Most yards per punt return in 1965 (15.6)
- 1968 NFL leader in points scored (120)
- 74 career touchdowns
- 7,274 career rushing yards
Did you know......Leroy Kelly spent his entire career with the Cleveland Browns (1964 - 1973)?