During the bleak years of the ’70s, the dynamic Browns running back and his ability to run out of tackles (and his No. 34) was one of the few reasons to watch Browns football. Still, those flimsy jerseys weren’t much protection from Cleveland’s elements.
“For it to be effective, you couldn’t wear anything under it, or they’d just grab that shirt,” says Pruitt. “It got pretty cold playing on the lakefront.”
Named to four Pro Bowls, Pruitt kept a diary of his 1975 1,000-yard rushing season (his first of three), which ran in the September 1976 issue of Cleveland Magazine.
After ending his career winning a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Raiders, Pruitt left sunny California for Cleveland.
“I liked Cleveland over L.A.,” Pruitt says. “I missed the change of seasons here, and the cost of living out there was quite a shock.” He dove into the Cleveland real estate market, ran an electronics company, became a sports agent and eventually started his own construction company.
“I was an outdoors person,” he says. “I can’t sit in an office. I’m not a suit-and-tie guy. It doesn’t feel right on me.”
Today he lives in Shaker Heights with Mary, his wife of 24 years; runs his residential construction company, Pruitt & Associates; still has one of those tearaway jerseys; and continues to attend Browns games.
Pruitt’s son Greg Jr. had a tryout with the Ravens this season, resulting in some flak from locals. Greg Jr., who Pruitt says is bigger and faster than he was, will try out for another NFL team next year (until then, catch him on Cleveland’s new arena football team).
Pruitt says his years away from football have made him more patient and appreciative. “I always did appreciate the Cleveland fans,” he says. “I got it as a player. Some players today don’t understand that it’s the fans that make you.”