Affectionately known as "Howdy Doody", the 5'9" Brian Kelly was an exceptionally intelligent receiver during his nine-year career.
Brian Kelly arrived in the CFL in 1979 after a record breaking career with the Washington State Cougars. Kelly did not miss a beat in his transition as a pro breaking the 1,000 yard mark with 1,098 receiving yards and capturing the League's Most Outstanding Rookie Award.
The California native fit right in with the then defending Grey Cup champions and went on to win 4 consecutive with the Green and Gold to start his career.
The number one target first for Tom Wilkinson then for Warren Moon, Kelly was equally adept at making the sure-handed short yardage reception as breaking a long run for a score. This is evidenced by over 5 touchdowns in his career of 80 yards or more. As the Eskimos transitioned out of the dynasty mode from Warren Moon to Matt Dunigan, Kelly was the calming constant at receiver who helped with the transition. In his final season in Edmonton in 1987 he posted incredible totals with 1,628 yard receiving and 13 touchdowns. Kelly retired in the same way as he came into the league as a champion as Edmonton captured the 1987 Grey Cup.
Upon hid retirement Brian caught 575 passes for a then CFL record 11,169 yards and scored 586 points. His 97 career touchdowns are in the top-10 on the CFL’s all-time list. He had his name added to the Eskimos Wall of Fame in 1989 and was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
The 5-foot-9 wide receiver teamed with Jack Thompson and Mike Levenseller in the late 1970s to make WSU’s passing attack one of the most feared in the nation. His 116 catches from 1975-77 still rank him in the WSU career top 10.
Kelly went on to spend nine seasons in the CFL with Hugh Campbell’s Edmonton Eskimos. Earned CFL rookie of the year honors in 1978 and was a perennial all-CFL pick. Caught 575 passes for a CFL record 11,169 yards and 97 career touchdowns --- second only to George Reed’s 137 career TDs.
The Eskimos won 5 Grey Cup titles during his career, including his first and last seasons.