The Pro Football Hall of Fame careers of Marion Motley, Jim Brown, and Leroy Kelly established a tradition of excellence for Cleveland Browns running backs.
There are other Browns running backs who, while not enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, also had outstanding careers.
One such running back is fullback Bo Scott.
As a rusher, receiver, and kick returner, Scott contributed to the success of three Cleveland playoff teams in 1969, 1971, and 1972.
Over his six seasons with the Browns, Scott scored 26 regular season and playoff touchdowns.
Bo Scott in action, 1973. #Browns pic.twitter.com/FlWbGkAW0X
— Ken Gelman (@kengfunk) November 14, 2017
We take a look at the life of Bo Scott – before, during, and after his NFL playing career.
The Early Years Through High School
Robert Marilla “Bo” Scott was born on March 30, 1943 in Connellsville, Pennsylvania.
Connellsville is located in southwestern Pennsylvania, about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
When Scott grew up there, Connellsville had a population of about 13,000 people.
Scott first played football in the second grade.
“I remember one day my brother had gone to football practice and I asked my mother if I could go and my brother was gone and I saw a couple of other guys and they were on [their] way to practice and I followed them up the path through the woods to practice. I stood around and was watching practice and [coach] Wally [Schroyer] walked over and said ‘Who are you?’ I told him who I was and he gave me a uniform and my brother had a fit and I went home and my mother said ‘what are you doing?!’. That’s how I started playing football.”
From 1959 to 1961, Scott played football at Connellsville High School.
It was in high school that Scott changed positions to running back.
“I was a quarterback for years from booster football all the way through my sophomore year. And then the new coach told me he thought I’d be more beneficial to the team if I played running back. At that time I didn’t think much of it. I had been playing quarterback from like second grade all the way through, and at first I hesitated, but I said he’s the coach and I can’t do anything about it. As it turns out, that probably was the best move that ever happened to me.”
At Connellsville High School, Scott earned All-County, All-Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, and All-State honors.
He served as co-captain and scored a touchdown for the West team in the 1961 Big 33 Football Classic, which featured the best high school players from Pennsylvania.
Scott was a three-sport athlete at Connellsville High School, earning 12 high school letters.
“Football was always my main sport. I started on the basketball team and I did well in track. I had a few school records. I first started out in the high jump and then ran the 100-yard and [200-yard] dash and the relays. I loved track – I loved them all.”
Scott captained his high school football, basketball, and track teams.
Recruited by many colleges to play football, Scott ultimately decided to attend The Ohio State University.
“I had a lot of schools after me. [Ohio State football head coach] Woody Hayes was the reason I went to Ohio State.”
After graduating high school in 1961, Scott headed to Columbus, Ohio to attend Ohio State.
After playing freshman football in 1961, Scott joined the varsity football team at Ohio State in 1962.
In writing about Scott, the “Ohio State University 1962 Football Information” booklet stated:
“[H]as excellent speed, having run a 10-flat 100 . . . along with his speed, Scott is a punishing, powerful runner . . . hobby is bowling.”
Scott scored a touchdown, on a seven-yard run, in his first varsity game for the Buckeyes, as Ohio State defeated North Carolina 41-7 on September 29, 1962.
He rushed for 22 yards on four rushing attempts.
In an 18-14 Ohio State loss to Northwestern (then ranked eighth in the nation by the Associated Press) on October 20, 1962, Scott rushed for 80 yards on six rushing attempts, intercepted a pass, and returned one kickoff for 14 yards.
For the 1962 season, Scott rushed for 142 yards on 21 rushing attempts and the above-described one touchdown, caught one pass for five yards, intercepted the above-described one pass, and returned three kickoffs for 51 yards and one punt for nine yards.
The Buckeyes posted a 6-3 record in 1962, including a 14-7 victory over Wisconsin (then ranked fifth in the nation by the Associated Press) on October 27, 1962 and a 28-0 shutout of rival Michigan on November 24, 1962.
1962 turned out to be Scott’s only season playing varsity college football for the Buckeyes.
He sat out the 1963 season because of academic issues.
On October 23, 1964, Scott signed with the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League (CFL).
The Pro Football Years
Scott played in the CFL from 1964 through 1968.
He joined the Rough Riders before the end of the 1964 season and rushed for 71 yards on two rushing attempts.
In 1965, Scott rushed for 672 yards and three touchdowns on 126 rushing attempts; he had an 87-yard run.
Bo Scott played from 1965-68 for the Ottawa Rough Riders. Grey Cup Champion 1968, 2x @CFL Allstar. Scott joined @Browns in 1969-74. He played college @OhioStateFB @CFL_Alumni @cflOttawaAlumni @TSN_Sports Photos: Ted Grant https://t.co/x4QfHOjJk5 pic.twitter.com/tpcV5oK8yS
— Scott Grant Photography 🇨🇦 (@quickshutterguy) November 29, 2020
He also caught 21 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns and returned 13 kickoffs for 361 yards and one touchdown.
For his play in 1965, Scott was named both All-CFL and a CFL East All-Star.
In 1966, Scott rushed for 648 yards on 140 rushing attempts and two touchdowns, caught 17 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns, and returned 16 kickoffs for 434 yards.
He was named a CFL East All-Star in 1966.
Scott rushed for 762 yards and six touchdowns on 136 rushing attempts, caught 24 passes for 351 yards (including an 80-yard reception) and four touchdowns, and returned four kickoffs for 100 yards, in 1967.
He was named both All-CFL and a CFL East All-Star for his play in 1967.
In 1968, Scott rushed for 911 yards and seven touchdowns on 137 rushing attempts (6.6 average yards per rushing attempt) and caught 16 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown.
For the fourth consecutive year, Scott was named a CFL East All-Star in 1968.
Ottawa did not have a losing season in any of Scott’s five years with the Rough Riders, posting records of 8-5-1 in 1964, 7-7 in 1965, 11-3 in 1966, 9-4-1 in 1967, and 9-3-2 in 1968.
In addition, Ottawa made the playoffs in each of Scott’s seasons there, advancing to the Grey Cup (the CFL championship game) in both 1966 (losing to the Saskatchewan Roughriders 29-14 on November 26, 1966) and 1968 (defeating the Calgary Stampeders 24-21 on November 30, 1968).
When Scott’s college eligibility had expired, he was drafted in 1965 by both the Cleveland Browns (in the third round of the 1965 NFL draft, as the 32nd overall pick) and the Oakland Raiders (in the 20th round of the 1965 American Football League draft, as the 155th overall pick).
After Scott’s contract with Ottawa ended in 1968, he had a decision to make between the Browns and the Raiders.
“I played out my option in Canada and several teams contacted me and wanted to know who had my rights and it was Cleveland and Oakland. I had a good career in Canada. I was set to go to the Raiders and at the last minute Cleveland called me. Jim Brown had retired right after I was drafted and Ernie Green got hurt and they contacted me. I didn’t go to the Raiders. I ended up going to the Browns.”
As an “NFL rookie” in 1969, Scott (playing at a height of six feet and three inches and at a weight of 215 pounds) played in 13 regular season games and started one regular season game for Cleveland.
On September 28, 1969, in a 27-23 Browns win over the Washington Redskins, Scott was credited with his first yards in an NFL regular season game, when he returned two kickoffs for 63 yards.
Scott gained his first rushing yards in an NFL regular season game, when he rushed for 13 yards on 11 rushing attempts, in a 27-17 Cleveland victory over the New Orleans Saints on October 12, 1969.
He also returned two kickoffs for 43 yards.
In a December 21, 1969 27-14 Browns loss to the New York Giants, Scott rushed for 85 yards on nine rushing attempts, including a 20-yard run, caught one pass for 14 yards, and returned three kickoffs for 89 yards.
For the 1969 regular season, Scott rushed for 157 yards on 44 rushing attempts and caught six passes for 25 yards.
Leroy Kelly and Bo Scott, the #Browns great backfield mates of the late 60's/early 70's. pic.twitter.com/wuJFiexszB
— Ken Gelman (@kengfunk) May 16, 2018
In addition, Scott returned 25 kickoffs for 722 yards, which led the NFL; his 28.9 average yards per kickoff return was second in the NFL.
Cleveland, with a 10-3-1 record, won the NFL Century Division title in 1969.
In addition to his kickoff returns, Scott contributed to the Browns offense ranking in the 1969 NFL regular season third in points scored (351), fifth in total passing and rushing yards (4,428), ninth in passing yards (2,640), tied for second in passing touchdowns (24), third in fewest sacks allowed (20), fifth in rushing yards (1,788), tied for first in rushing touchdowns (17), and tied for sixth in average yards per rushing attempt (4.0).
In the 1969 NFL playoffs, Cleveland first played the Dallas Cowboys on December 28, 1969.
Scott started the game and scored two touchdowns (his first NFL regular season or playoff touchdowns), both on two-yard runs, as the Browns defeated Dallas 38-14.
Bo Scott carries the ball in the #Browns 38-14 win over Dallas in the 1969 NFL Playoffs. pic.twitter.com/dlzqI14GwK
— Ken Gelman (@kengfunk) June 5, 2017
He rushed for 33 yards on 11 rushing attempts, caught two passes for 39 yards (including a 24-yard reception), and returned one kickoff for 26 yards.
The following week, on January 4, 1970, Cleveland met the Minnesota Vikings in the 1969 NFL championship game.
Scott started the game.
He rushed for 17 yards on six rushing attempts, caught five passes for 56 yards (including a 35-yard reception), and returned four kickoffs for 60 yards, but the Browns lost to the Vikings 27-7.
In 1970, Scott played in and started 13 regular season games at fullback.
Nov. 15, 1970: FB Bo Scott is stopped at Riverfront Stadium. @Bengals first win vs @Browns, 14-10. Photo from @Enquirer archives. #WhoDey #DawgPound@ENQphoto #CINvsCLE #NFLHistory #BattleofOhio pic.twitter.com/1OltmJk6PY
— NyergesMike (@NyergesMike) November 26, 2017
On November 1, 1970, in a 27-10 Browns loss to the San Diego Chargers, Scott caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Cleveland quarterback Bill Nelsen.
Scott rushed for 82 yards on 13 rushing attempts, including a 40-yard run, and caught two passes for nine yards.
The following week, on November 8, 1970, Scott scored on a 63-yard touchdown run, in a 23-20 Cleveland loss to the Oakland Raiders.
He rushed for 101 yards on 14 rushing attempts and caught two passes for 20 yards.
In a 28-14 Browns victory over the Houston Oilers on November 22, 1970.
Scott caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Bill Nelsen.
Scott rushed for 63 yards on 15 rushing attempts, including a 20-yard run, and caught two passes for 33 yards.
Scott scored on a two-yard touchdown run, as Cleveland defeated the Oilers for a second time in 1970 – 21-10 on December 7, 1970.
He rushed for 61 yards on 11 rushing attempts, including a 35-yard run, and caught three passes for 18 yards.
The following week, on December 12, 1970, Scott rushed for 45 yards on 12 rushing attempts, including a 15-yard run, and caught six passes for 51 yards, including a 22-yard reception, in a 6-2 Browns loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
In the next game, on December 20, 1970, Scott scored two touchdowns, on a two-yard run and on a 23-yard pass from Bill Nelsen, as Cleveland defeated the Denver Broncos 27-13.
Scott rushed for 35 yards on 13 rushing attempts, including a 12-yard run, and caught three passes for 52 yards.
Scott rushed for 625 yards and seven touchdowns (tied for fifth in the NFL) on 151 rushing attempts and caught 40 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns in the 1970 regular season.
In describing his running style, Scott stated:
“I don’t consider myself any special type of runner. If I’m told to run up the middle, I believe I’ve got enough power to do it. And if I have to go outside, I can do that too.”
For his play in 1970, Scott received the Cleveland Touchdown Club’s Outstanding Offense Player Award and was voted by Browns players as team most valuable player.
#Browns have the 🏈 again.
Bo Scott scores the first rushing TD in #MNF history.
14-0 #Browns pic.twitter.com/WZzNv18Ett
— Old Time Football 🏈 (@Ol_TimeFootball) March 21, 2021
The Browns had a 7-7 record in 1970.
Scott helped the Cleveland offense rank in the 1970 NFL regular season seventh in total passing and rushing yards (4,161), fifth in passing yards (2,582), second in fewest sacks allowed (16), and tied for seventh in rushing touchdowns (14).
In 1971, Scott started all 14 regular season games at fullback.
On October 4, 1971, Scott scored on a three-yard touchdown run, in a 34-20 Browns loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Scott rushed for 75 yards on 17 rushing attempts, including an 18-yard run, and caught three passes for 24 yards.
The following week, on October 10, 1971, Scott scored on a 18-yard touchdown run, as Cleveland defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17.
Scott rushed for 73 yards on 22 rushing attempts and caught four passes for 54 yards, including a 28-yard reception.
In the next game, on October 17, 1971, Scott scored three touchdowns, on a three-yard run, a seven-yard pass from Bill Nelsen, and, for the winning score, a four-yard run, in a 27-24 Browns win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Scott rushed for 42 yards on 14 rushing attempts, including a 17-yard run, and caught three passes for one yard.
Scott scored two touchdowns, on a one-yard run and a four-yard run, in a 37-24 Cleveland victory over the Houston Oilers on November 28, 1971.
He rushed for 39 yards on 13 rushing attempts.
The following week, on December 5, 1971, Scott rushed for 61 yards on 12 rushing attempts, including a 35-yard run, and caught one pass for six yards, as the Browns defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 31-27 (Cleveland’s second victory over the Bengals in 1971).
In the next game, on December 12, 1971, Scott scored on a two-yard touchdown run, in a 21-17 Cleveland win over the New Orleans Saints.
Scott rushed for 46 yards on 14 rushing attempts, including a 13-yard run, and caught three passes for 51 yards, including a 35-yard reception.
For the 1971 regular season, Scott rushed for 606 yards and nine touchdowns (tied for third in the NFL) on 179 rushing attempts and caught 30 passes for 233 yards and the above-described one touchdown.
Scott’s total of 10 touchdowns ranked tied for fifth in the NFL.
In 1971, Cleveland had a 9-5 record and won the AFC Central Division title.
With Scott at fullback, the Browns offense ranked in the 1971 NFL regular season tenth in points scored (285), ninth in passing yards (2,299), tied for sixth in fewest sacks allowed (22), and tied for third in rushing touchdowns (19).
On December 26, 1971, the Browns played the Baltimore Colts in the 1971 NFL playoffs.
Scott started the game.
He rushed for 25 yards on eight rushing attempts (including a 17-yard run), caught five passes for 41 yards, and returned one kickoff for 30 yards, but Cleveland lost to Baltimore 20-3.
In 1972, Scott played in and started 12 regular season games at fullback.
On September 24, 1972, in a 27-17 Browns win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Scott scored on a one-yard touchdown run.
Scott rushed for 74 yards on 10 rushing attempts, including a 23-yard run.
In a 20-0 Cleveland shutout of the Houston Oilers on November 5, 1972, Scott rushed for 60 yards on 12 rushing attempts, including a 19-yard run, and caught two passes for 31 yards, including a 21-yard reception.
Scott rushed for 84 yards on 14 rushing attempts, including a 14-yard run, and caught two passes for 15 yards, as the Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-24 on November 19, 1972.
The following week, on November 26, 1972, in a 27-10 Cleveland victory over the Buffalo Bills, Scott rushed for 40 yards on eight rushing attempts, including a 16-yard run, and caught six passes for 62 yards, including a 30-yard reception.
On December 9, 1972, Scott rushed for 59 yards on 12 rushing attempts, including a 22-yard run, and caught one pass for 19 yards, in a 27-24 Browns win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The following week, on December 17, 1972, Scott scored on a 27-yard touchdown run, as Cleveland defeated the New York Jets 26-10.
Scott rushed for 69 yards on 10 rushing attempts.
In the 1972 regular season, Scott rushed for 571 yards and the above-described two touchdowns on 123 rushing attempts and caught 23 passes for 172 yards.
Cleveland earned a wildcard playoff berth in 1972 after posting a 10-4 record.
The Browns met the undefeated Miami Dolphins in the 1972 NFL playoffs on December 24, 1972.
Scott started the game.
He rushed for 94 yards on 16 rushing attempts (including a 17-yard run) and caught four passes for 30 yards.
Cleveland led the game in the fourth quarter, but ultimately narrowly lost to the Dolphins 20-14.
In 1973, Scott’s playing time began to decrease because of injuries, as he played in only seven, and did not start any, regular season games.
On October 21, 1973, Scott caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Cleveland quarterback Don Horn, in a 42-13 Browns victory over the Houston Oilers.
Scott rushed for 46 yards on 13 rushing attempts, including a 20-yard run, and caught two passes for seven yards.
Scott rushed for 79 yards on 34 rushing attempts and caught six passes for 23 yards and the above-described one touchdown during the 1973 regular season.
The Browns had a 7-5-2 record in 1973, but failed to make the playoffs.
Scott, in 1974, played in all 14 regular season games, but started only one regular season game.
On September 22, 1974, Scott rushed for 32 yards on seven rushing attempts, including a 20-yard run, and caught three passes for 13 yards, as Cleveland defeated the Houston Oilers 20-7.
In the 1974 regular season, Scott rushed for 86 yards on 23 rushing attempts and caught seven passes for 22 yards.
Cleveland had a 4-10 record in 1974.
Scott contributed to the Browns offense ranking in the 1974 NFL regular season tied for fifth in average yards per rushing attempt (4.2).
On August 8, 1975, the Browns waived Scott, ending his NFL career.
The Years After the NFL
Scott has four children.
After the end of his NFL career, Scott settled in Columbus, Ohio.
In describing his post-NFL life, Scott said:
“I worked with kids. I was assistant director of juvenile detention center and I worked for the juvenile court and worked with them for 28 years until I retired.”
Scott was inducted into the Connellsville High School Hall of Fame in 2012.
In 2016, Scott was inducted into the Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame (Fayette County is in southwestern Pennsylvania).
Scott ranks high in several Browns career regular season statistical categories.
As a rusher, Scott ranks 16th in Browns career regular season rushing yards (2,124) and tied for 12th in Browns career regular season rushing touchdowns (18).
As a receiver, Scott ranks 13th among running backs (tied for 46th among all players) in Browns career regular season receptions (112), 15th among running backs (71st among all players) in Browns career regular season receiving yards (826), and tied for 13th among running backs (tied for 57th among all players) in Browns career regular season receiving touchdowns (6).
As a returner, Scott ranks first among players with at least 25 regular season kickoff returns in Browns career regular season average yards per kickoff return (28.9).
These regular season statistics do not include Scott’s fine performance in playoff games.
In four playoff games, Scott rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 41 rushing attempts, caught 16 passes for 166 yards, and returned six kickoffs for 116 yards.
Scott also contributed to Cleveland team success.
In Scott’s six seasons with the Browns, Cleveland had a losing record in only one season, made the playoffs in three seasons, won the division title in two seasons, and won a playoff game in one season.
In assessing Scott’s career with the Browns, it is important to note that he largely accumulated his statistics over only three seasons.
He only started multiple regular season games in 1970, 1971, and 1972.
There is no doubt that Scott would have accrued even more impressive statistics with the Browns if he had not played in the CFL at the beginning of, and if he had not suffered injuries at the end of, his professional football career.
Nevertheless, for his excellent performance when he did play for the Browns, Bo Scott should be remembered as one of the top running backs in Cleveland Browns history.
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