The Eagles organization extends its deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Leroy Keyes, who passed earlier Thursday. A former top draft pick who spent four seasons with the team, Keyes died at his home in West Lafayette, Indiana at the age of 74. He is survived by his wife, Monica, and four children: Raymond, Jacqueline, Courtland, and Colin.
Keyes was chosen by the Eagles with the third overall pick in the 1969 NFL Draft out of Purdue, where he was a legendary running back, defensive back, and return specialist. Nicknamed "The Golden Mr. Do-Everything," Keyes finished as the school's all-time leader in touchdowns (37), points (222), and all-purpose yards (3,757).
"When you talk about the greatest era of Purdue football, that's what he was," said former Eagles wide receiver Calvin Williams, a Purdue alumnus who is now the school's associate athletics director.
"He was tremendous, a two-way player. Leroy was a big man; he was 6-3. I can't imagine being a 6-3 defensive back back then and as a wide receiver having to go up against that type of athlete. He was a daunting figure on film and a big presence in life, just always jovial, always had good things to say about anybody and everybody. We lost a big piece of Purdue history this morning."
Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990, Keyes was the first player in Purdue history to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark. A runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1968, Keyes was named the Boilermakers' all-time greatest player in 1987 when the program celebrated its 100th season. More recently, Keyes was named in an online poll to the Mount Rushmore of Purdue football, along with quarterbacks Drew Brees and Bob Griese, and defensive back Rod Woodson.
In his four years with the Eagles, Keyes played running back, cornerback, and safety. In 1971, Keyes and All-Pro Bill Bradley formed one of the best safety duos in the game, combining for 17 interceptions.
Following his Eagles tenure, Keyes spent one season with the Kansas City Chiefs. He returned to Philadelphia to work for the city's school district as a desegregation specialist for 16 years before returning to his alma mater to join its coaching staff in 1995. He remained with Purdue in several capacities until his retirement in 2011.
Information from Ray Didinger was used in this feature.