Tennessee Titans: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NFLPhotoLibrary)
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NFLPhotoLibrary) /
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148. . LT. (1979-81). Leon Gray. 28. player

  • 2x First-Team All-Pro w/Oilers (1979-80)
  • 3x Pro Bowl w/Oilers (1979-81)
  • 46 career games w/Oilers
  • 46 career starts w/Oilers

Leon Gray would be a third-round pick by the Miami Dolphins in the 1973 NFL Draft out of Jackson State. However, he never played for the Dolphins in his professional career, as he was cut during training camp as a rookie. He would end up playing the early part of his NFL career with the New England Patriots.

In New England, Gray would form a dynamic offensive line tandem with arguably the greatest guard in NFL history in future Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah. By year four in the league in 1976, Gray emerged as a Pro Bowler and New England was in the mix for Super Bowl contention.

However, after the 1976 NFL season, Gray would be traded to the Oilers in a questionable deal for New England. The Patriots saw Gray as too expensive of a piece, opting to get a first and sixth-round pick in exchange for him. Gray would go on to play his prime in Houston for the Oilers.

While he only played three seasons for the Oilers, this was peak “Luv Ya Blue” era for Houston. Gray was a First-Team All-Pro in his first two years in Houston in 1979 and 1981. He made the Pro Bowl in all three of his seasons with the Oilers.

Gray was a huge reason for Heisman Trophy winning running back Earl Campbell’s early success in the NFL in Houston. Frankly, Gray was arguably one of the best offensive tackles in all of football in his prime. Shockingly, he would not close out his NFL career in Houston, as he would be traded to the New Orleans Saints for their starter quarterback Archie Manning, of all people.

Gray played two more seasons in the NFL with the Saints, helping the New Orleans ground game get going with another talented tailback in tow in the form of another Heisman Trophy winning running back in George Rogers.

Overall, Gray only played in 46 games for the Oilers, all of them being starts. Though an excellent player in the late 1970s to early 1980s, Gray will likely forever stay in the Hall of Very Good. Having his prime split between New England and Houston doesn’t help his Pro Football Hall of Fame case. That being said, “Luv Ya Blue” may not have been a thing without Gray being an absolute road grader on the Houston offensive line.