Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden Opens Up About Leroy Kelly and Cleveland Browns Fandom

by Halle Ames

Most young kids dream of growing up to become a professional athlete. When those dreams don’t pan out as planned, a lucky select few are chosen to lead those athletes as their coach. Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden talks about growing up being one of those kids with his love for a rival team, the Cleveland Browns.

Jon Gruden and the Cleveland Browns

When you were younger, did you have a favorite team jersey? Your favorite player was probably on the back, and maybe, if you were lucky, it had an autograph. You would eat, sleep, and live in that beloved jersey.

You’re not alone. We have all been there, including Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden, although he hasn’t always been a Raiders fan. Growing up in Ohio, he was a diehard Browns fan.

“I can remember growing up in Ohio, being a big Cleveland Browns fan, watching the games with my dad, and I was a big Leroy Kelly fan. So I’d watch the pregame shows, and then I’d go out in the yard in my Leroy Kelly jersey, and I would fall around in the grass, get mud all over my pants, just like the Cleveland Browns did in their old stadium.”

Leroy Kelly

Leroy Kelly is a Pro Football Hall of Fame running back who played for the Browns most of his career, which was from 1964 until 1974. Drafted in the eighth round as the 110 pick, he was a standout star for Cleveland his rookie season with nearly 24.3 yards per return. Later that year, he helped his team to the 1964 NFL championship. Kelly is a decorated player with six Pro Bowl appearances, the two-time NFL rushing yards leader, and the three-time NFL rushing touchdown leader.

Jon Gruden was one of the more dedicated fans in his youth, saying his mood could depend on the outcome of the Browns game. However, he says he wouldn’t trade those times for anything.

“Man, I love the Cleveland Browns and cried when they lost, cheered when they won, and still the best times of my life were those days. My idols.”

This year the Cleveland Browns are 8 and 3, while the Las Vegas Raiders are not far behind, with a record of 6 and 5.