Bruce McLenna
No. 24     
Halfback, Fullback, End
Personal information
Date of birth: (1941-12-23)December 23, 1941
Place of birth: Holly, Michigan
Date of death: June 18, 1968(1968-06-18) (aged 26)
Place of death: Urbana, Missouri
Career information
College: Michigan
NFL Draft: 1965 / Round: 9 / Pick: 123
AFL Draft: 1965 / Round: Red Shirt 9 / Pick: 69
(by the Kansas City Chiefs)[1]
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
* Detroit Lions (1966)
Career highlights and awards
  • N/A
Carries     16
Rushing yards     51
Average     3.1
Receptions     3
Yards     13
Touchdowns     0
Stats at

Bruce Oliver McLenna (December 23, 1941 – June 18, 1968) was an American football player. He played college football for the University of Michigan in 1961 and for Hillsdale College in 1964 and 1965. He played professional football for the Detroit Lions in 1966 and was later signed by the Kansas City Chiefs. In June 1968, he was killed in an automobile accident at age 26 while riding in a military vehicle as part of his service in the Missouri National Guard.

Early yearsEdit

A native of Holly, Michigan,[2] McLenna grew up in Fenton, Michigan.[3]

College footballEdit

McLenna played college football as a halfback for the University of Michigan in 1961. He gained 43 net rushing yards on 14 rushing attempts in 1961 and scored touchdowns against Army and Ohio State.[4] He was listed on the 1962 roster at the fullback and end positions,[3] but he was ruled academically ineligible to play for Michigan's football team in late August 1962.[5][6]

McLenna transferred to Hillsdale College where he became a star running back for the Hillsdale Chargers football team.[7][8] He played for Hillsdale in 1964 and 1965 and was the leading scorer in the state in 1964.[9] He was also selected as Hillsdale's most valuable player in 1965.[10] He was also selected for the "Little All-America" team.[11]

Professional footballEdit

McLenna was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the ninth round (123rd overall pick) of the 1965 NFL Draft, but he opted to continue playing for Hillsdale College in 1965.[10] He played at the halfback position for the 1966 Detroit Lions, appearing in the first nine games of the 1966 NFL season.[2][11] However, he sustained a knee injury in the ninth game and missed the remainder of the season.[12] McLenna underwent knee surgery in November 1966.[8] In March 1967, the Lions traded McLenna to the New Orleans Saints for Charlie Bradshaw.[8][13] He was cut by the Saints before the start of the 1967 regular season. He then signed with the Kansas City Chiefs and played on the Chiefs' taxi squad during the 1967 season.[11][14]


McLenna died in June 1968 at Urbana, Missouri.[15] He was killed in an automobile crash while traveling in a military vehicle from Ft. Leonard Wood to Camp Clark at Nevada, Missouri.[7] According to an account of the accident published in The Sporting News, McLenna was riding in the rear of a military truck as part of a two-week assignment with the 1975th Military Police Battalion. The truck was sideswiped by a civilian automobile on U.S. Highway 65.[11] McLenna was attempting to fulfill his service obligation with the Missouri National Guard before the start of the 1968 NFL season.[7][16]


  1. "1965 AFL Draft".
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Bruce McLenna".
  3. 3.0 3.1 "University of Michigan All-time Rosters Search Page". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. McLenna as the last name on the search page, and press enter)
  4. "Michigan Football Statistic Archive Query Page". University of Michigan. Archived from the original on November 12, 2007. Retrieved July 23, 2011.(To access McLenna's record, enter his last name "McLenna" in the main search page. Then click on "Display Stats By Season" to access his game-by-game results.)
  5. "Second Wolverine Lost for Football". Chicago Daily Tribune. August 25, 1962."Bruce McLenna junior letterman has been ruled scholastically ineligible to play on the University of Michigan football team ...")
  6. "Michigan Junior End Lost For 1962 Season". The Sun, Baltimore, Md.. September 3, 1962.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Fullback Bruce McLenna Dies in Crash". The Evening News (AP story). June 19, 1968.,3486120&dq=bruce-mclenna&hl=en.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Saints Trade for McLenna". Herald-Journal (AP story). March 10, 1967.,2041706&dq=bruce-mclenna&hl=en.
  9. "Michigan College Grid teams Open League Play". The Owosso Argus-Press. October 1, 1965.,3435355&dq=bruce-mclenna&hl=en.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Bruce McLenna Most Valuable". Ludington Daily News. November 27, 1965.,5706464&dq=bruce-mclenna&hl=en.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "Bruce McLenna". The Sporting News. July 6, 1968.
  12. "LIONS' McLENNA LOST FOR YEAR WITH INJURY". Chicago Tribune. November 9, 1966.'+McLENNA+LOST+FOR+YEAR+WITH+INJURY&pqatl=google.
  13. "McLenna Surprises Saints". The Evening Independent. August 17, 1967.,2874076&dq=bruce-mclenna&hl=en.
  14. "McLenna, Chiefs' Fullback, Killed in Auto Accident". The New York Times. June 19, 1968.
  15. "Deaths". The Michigan Alumnus, vol. 75: p. 37. 1968.
  16. "Onetime Lion, McLenna killed". The Windsor Star. June 20, 1968.,4178933&dq=bruce-mclenna&hl=en.
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