Jim Kelly grew up in Pennsylvania rooting for the Steelers. But his pro career landed him first in the USFL out of the University of Miami. He was drafted in the 1983 Draft where names like Elway and Marino were bantered about. Kelly was drafted 14th before his beloved Steelers or the Miami Dolphins could have had his services. After his record breaking stint in the USFL, Kelly headed to Buffalo and promptly led the team to four Super Bowl appearances.
He retired in 1996, entered the Hall of Fame and still works as an Ambassador for the Bills. Bills defensive stalwart Mario Williams is his next door neighbor. So he's able to keep up with pretty much everything Bills related without being a member of the 53-man roster. This season he's seen plenty and he'll be up close and personal in Miami when the teams meet up on Sunday.
"The best decision I ever made in my life was becoming a Buffalo Bill in 1986," Kelly said. "Our owner brought in people around me and we went on to win many, many games."
The Bills are 2-4 while Miami is 3-2 but Kelly knows those records could easily be unblemished.
"It's the battle of two teams that are right on the verge of being very good. Two teams that lost games right at the end of the ballgames," Kelly said. "They could easily be 4-1. Buffalo could easily be 4-2 or 5-1. You look at some of the games they lost right at the end."
The Bills have been through quite a few quarterbacks this season but Kelly hasn't been signed to the practice squad – yet.
"Unfortunately, we're on our fourth quarterback. Kevin Kolb went down, E.J. Manuel went down, Jeff Tuel came in and couldn't get it done so they went to their practice squad guy, Thad Lewis, who to honest with you, has impressed me."
Perhaps Lewis has a touch of Kelly in him.
"I like his leadership. I like how he went about running that style of offense. For me, I'm not as nervous as I was when E.J. went down. You always ask for that opportunity and the old saying, 'next man up.' They gave Thad Lewis that opportunity and he had only four days removed from the practice squad and now he's a starter in the NFL."
Kelly knows the Fins are a worthy opponent for his Bills.
"They're right there. They have a heck of a team, they are really competing. They are on the verge of doing something good.We have two teams that are battling and two teams are desperately in need for a win. Both teams are building their programs."
One matchup, Miami's lack of a rushing attack and the Bill's lack of stopping the run could be big.
"It's a little bit of both," he said. "We have a running game and that takes the pressure off of Lewis and the Dolphins have a passing quarterback in Tannehill and they're trying to make plays that way."
Kelly hasn't slowed down since leaving the active roster. He works tirelessly for his late son Hunter's foundation, Hunter's Hope – www.huntershope.org. He even designed a handy clip, something he's used for decades.
"I never was a wallet guy. I kept a rubberband around my money and credit cards but it kept breaking," he said. "So I went to a black binder clip but I thought I had to find a way to dress this up."
So Kelly designed the Fan Clip. The clips come in your favorite sports team color and logo and can be personalized for fundraisers as well.
"I started asking people and and I came up with the idea of putting logos on them for your favorite team," he said. "Now we're doing high school which is going to huge for us. You can use them for fundraising. One of my favorite is a team up here called the Fredonia Hillbillies. I had there's on my money clip for awhile but everybody said, 'hey, that's really cool can I have it? You can get another one.' So I wound up giving it away."
And the clips are for general purpose use. Kelly uses them for coffee bags, potato chip bags and just about anywhere a binder clip can be used.
"My youngest daughter Kenner has it on her backpack. There's so many uses for it," he said.
You can find the clips at www.jimkelly.com or go to www.myfanclip.com
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