For years, Jim Kelly and Andre Reed were the most prolific passing combination in NFL history. So there was no chance that Kelly was going to miss the chance to see his friend and former Buffalo Bills teammate be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Kelly, who has been bravely battling cancer, will be in Canton, according to his wife, Jill, who told the Buffalo News that she and her husband will be fighting back emotions as they watch Reed put on the gold jacket Saturday night.
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Kelly's cancer returned in February, and it combined with the death of Bills owner Ralph Wilson was a double shot of sadness for the entire Buffalo committee. Kelly remains upbeat and busy, Jill said, as he spent time this week filming a series on the Bills with ESPN. She reports that he's doing whatever he can to remain active and healthy.
“He’s pushing it,” Jill said. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if he’s all better and good to go. There’s still the looming test in August, the not knowing if treatments worked, the fact that he’s still on a feeding tube.
“His life is still in that place of uncertainty, not knowing really what’s going to happen with all of this. So he’s still beat down; he’s still tired, he still gets sick quite a bit. But he would not miss this for the world.”
And it will be a busy weekend for Kelly and his family. The couple and their daughter, Erin, will drive down from Buffalo to Canton, Ohio to watch Saturday's induction of Reed and the other six members of the Class of 2014. Then on Sunday, Jim Kelly will flip the opening coin for the Hall of Fame Game between the Bills and the New York Giants
You can expect a raucous ovation that should remind the football-watching world that the Bills' fan base — even with, and especially because, the franchise up for sale — remains one of the NFL's most fiercely loyal. That loyalty extends to the Bills family, Jill said.
“And he wouldn’t miss it for the City of Buffalo,” Jill said. “It’s that way for all of us. He felt the same way when [Kelly] went in.”
Jill expects her husband to let his emotions and pride carry him through the weekend, which should be one giant celebration of all things Bills.
“I know he’ll go hard,” she said, “because he’s not going to miss any opportunity to be with his guys. I think he’ll be on such an emotional high that it won’t hit him until we get home. On the ride home, he’ll be physically wiped out. I hope that’s the case, because I want him to be able to take in every single bit of this.”
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- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Jim Kelly
- Buffalo Bills
- Pro Football Hall of Fame
- Andre Reed