Leroy Hoard is one of the legendary backs that came through the University of Michigan. A punishing frunner who left it all out on the field, he ran 314 times for 1706 yards and 19 TDs playing for the Wolverines as primarily a short yardage back. Considered one of the best backs of this function of the era, Hoard was drafted in the second round of the 1990 draft by the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were a team struggling to maintain positioning in a contentious arms race in the AFC Central between the Bengals, Oilers, and Steelers and still feeling the long presence of former head coach Marty Schottenheimer over the franchise. Still head coach Bud Carson had put his stamp on the team, drafting do-it-all scat back Eric Metcalf the previous year and maintaining the continuity of the offense with Bernie Kosar at the helm. It was an interesting pick however, as the team already boasted a power fullback in the name of Kevin Mack. The team however struggled early and often that year, and Carson found himself ousted during the season. Hoard had a very plain rookie season, but still managed to grab 3 touchdowns rushing, which was quite a feat since the team scored only 224 points en route to a 3-13 season.
Bill Bilichick was brought in the following season to turn things around. As he remade the team over the next few seasons, Hoard became a more intergral part of the offense. In 1991 Leroy demonstrated a knack as a receiver, catching a career high 48 passes for 567 yards and 9 touchdowns, including a 71 yarder against the Kansas City Chiefs that year. In 1994, Hoard rushed for a career high 890 yards and had 1,335 yards from scrimmage earning him his one and only Pro Bowl berth.
In 1996, Leroy made the transition with the Browns franchise to Baltimore. During the season he’d be traded, and spend time on the roster of the Carolina Panthers, before finally landing with the Minnesota Vikings. Although Leroy’s time as a starter had begun to wane, he was still an important part of the Vikings offense. Starting 6 games that year, he ran for 420 yards and 3 touchdowns and caught 10 passes for 129 yards. Hoard remained with the Vikings through the 1999 season, – a year in which he ran for a career high 10 touchdowns on 138 carries.
Life has been difficult for Leroy since his playing days have ended. Because of his brutal playing style, Leroy suffered multiple concussions and head injuries during his playing time in college and the NFL. Due to the lack of information on the subject, Hoard, like many players shrugged off the effects and went back into the game, compounding the effects. Today Leroy suffers from frequent and painful headaches and has bouts of ‘forgetfulness’ that plague his memory. I felt it was my responsibility as a fan paying homage to him and asking for his autograph to include a donation. Leroy has found some therapy through sports talk radio, and currently lives in the Miami, FL area. A member of Tecmo Super Bowl, Hoard is one of the feared ‘popcorn backs’, a runningback so powerful that all you had to do was tap the B button and he’d throw would be tacklers aside as he ran up the field.
G/Gs 144/66 Rush 1008 Yds 3964 Avg 3.9 Td 36 Lg 53
Rec 238 Yds 2430 Avg 10.2 Td 15 Lg 72t