BUFFALO, N.Y. — The recurrence of cancer isn’t tempering Jim Kelly’s resolve to keep the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo.
Citing a family motto of “Staying Kelly tough,” the Hall of Fame quarterback vowed Thursday he will beat cancer and preserve his former team’s long-term future at the same time.
“(Kelly tough) means standing up and giving it your all no matter what comes your way, and sticking to your guns when it comes to what you believe in,” Kelly said. “For me, it means staying tough to beat cancer. And I want everyone in Buffalo to join me in being Kelly tough to keep the Bills right where they belong: Here in western New York.”
The statement was released through his company, Jim Kelly Inc., and comes at an uncertain time for both Kelly and the Bills, as Kelly has spent the past six weeks receiving radiation and chemotherapy treatments for sinus cancer.
“The cancer has been rough. It’s hurt really bad,” he said. “I’m not out of the woods by any means, but we think the treatments are going well, and I’m going to beat this!”
This is Kelly’s second bout with cancer in less than a year. In June, he had surgery to remove cancerous cells from his upper jaw. A follow-up test in March revealed that the cancer had returned.
The diagnosis came shortly before Bills owner Ralph Wilson died, leading to questions about the franchise’s future. The Bills will be put on the market and could be sold by as early as October.
A strict non-relocation clause essentially ties the Bills to playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium through the 2019 season. There remain concerns a new owner could relocate the team after that.
Kelly remains interested in joining a prospective ownership group.
Kelly’s brother, Dan, said he’s had several conversations with at least one candidate, New York City developer Donald Trump.
Beyond that, Jim Kelly urged fans show their support and convince prospective owners to keep the team in the region.
“The Buffalo Bills are a part of life here. They brought me to Buffalo and I love this community so much that I stayed here to raise my family,” he said. “Now is the time. It’s absolutely critical to come out and show your support for the team this season to show the new owners how crazy they’d be to take the team elsewhere.”
Kelly received a visit earlier this week from Bills first-round draft pick Sammy Watkins.