25 questions with Bills Legend Jim Kelly

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Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly makes his return to the 2019 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida, this week as a Legends Captain for the AFC team offense. In celebration of the Pro Bowl and his iconic career, buffalobills.com caught up with Kelly to discover more about his time with the Bills, his family life and what he likes to do in his spare time.

1. Do you have any favorite Pro Bowl moments?

…I think one time we broke the record for the most Pro Bowlers by one team – we had 10 or 11. So, being there with my teammates and being able to enjoy it and have fun [was the best moment].

Bills Legend Jim Kelly strikes a celebratory pose at the Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1993.
Bills Legend Jim Kelly strikes a celebratory pose at the Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1993.

2. Why are you excited to go back to the Pro Bowl as a Legends Captain?

Going to Disney World with my kids and my family.

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3. How fun! They’re all going down with you?

Yes, I am very blessed. Yes, they are and that’s what I’m excited about. But you know, as far as football [goes], just talking to the guys, some of the guys that I’ve never met before [and] just getting really to know some of the personalities [is exciting]. Kyle [Williams] is one of my best buddies too, so I look forward to seeing him again [and him] playing in his last football game ever.

It's 2019 Pro Bowl week in Orlando, Florida! Click through to see photos of Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams, AFC Legends Captain Jim Kelly and more from the Sunshine State.

4. Who were your sports idols growing up?

Very simple – Terry Bradshaw on the field, Joe Namath off the field.

Joe Namath, former New York Jet and 1985 Hall of Fame inductee, watches the coin toss at Super Bowl XXVIII featuring the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys.
Joe Namath, former New York Jet and 1985 Hall of Fame inductee, watches the coin toss at Super Bowl XXVIII featuring the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys.

5. What is your favorite moment as a Buffalo Bill?

The first day that I walked onto to the field and knew that I was in the NFL. Because growing up my whole life, I dreamt about being an NFL quarterback, growing up in Pittsburgh and being a Steelers fan and wanting to take care of my mom and dad and make my five brothers proud. I finally went to the NFL and signed a contract with the Bills and running onto the field as a Buffalo Bill against the New York Jets, knowing [my] mom and dad and my five brothers were in the stands [was an amazing feeling]. So, that definitely, without a doubt, was the best moment in my life.

6. Who were your funniest teammates?

We had a bunch of comedians [on the team]. I mean, from Darryl Talley, [who was] probably one of the main ones, to Fred Smerlas in the earlier years without a doubt…I’d have to say one of the craziest and funniest was Darryl Talley and to this day he still cracks us up and we still joke with each other – not just me and Darryl but Bruce, Thurman [and] all of us.

7. If you could give aspiring athletes one piece of advice, what would it be?

Work harder than the next guy. Never, ever give up on your dreams.

8. What is the funniest or craziest interaction you’ve ever had with a fan?

Oh [there’s been] a couple times! Just seeing somebody that has a tattoo of me on their arm, their calf [or] their shoulder. [I’d] just say ‘Man are you alright?’…

9. Who/what is your favorite social media account to follow?

Well, not funny but inspiring is without question my wife and my daughters Erin and Camryn – my family. There are times that I’m on the road, and I’m on the road a lot, that just by reading their posts it brightens my day up and makes me really focus on what I should focus on and that’s the love of other people and praying and realizing that I made it here because of the grace of God and for all the people out there. My wife definitely inspires me each and every day.

10. What is your favorite vacation spot?

Hilton Head [South Carolina]. I love it because when my son passed away, we went there after the funeral and we’ve been going every single year since that day. We go there and reflect on our son and then spend time with my family – you know my wife’s family, her mom and dad and her brother and their kids. And you know what, it’s always a very special time in our life that we get to spend in Hilton Head – really to reflect on my son and what he meant to all of our lives.

11. What is one thing people don’t already know about you?

I’m color blind. My wife when I go anywhere, she picks out my ties.

12. Do you have a go-to karaoke song?

No, not really. I’m not a real good singer. To be honest, I really don’t. The one [song] I like is ‘My Old Man’ sung by Zac Brown Band because every time I hear it, it reminds me of my father. Even though I never called him my old man – I would never do that – but in the South, they call their fathers [and say] ‘Hey that’s my old man’ but it reminds me of my dad and how much he inspired me as a young kid to fulfill and to go after my dreams and never to give up and to work hard…

I remember [watching] ‘The Today Show,’ this was probably last year, my father just passed away and I came and sat down in my chair and all of a sudden I just read something about my dad and it came on the TV and all of a sudden I look up and here comes my daughter Erin – this was in the morning. She sat there with me and listened to that song and we both broke down in tears…even though I never called him my old man, he was my father, he was my inspiration.

13. Do you have a favorite quote or motto?

‘Make a difference today for someone who’s fighting for their tomorrow.’ [Also], ‘Never, ever give up on your dreams.’

14. Are you currently binge watching any shows?

No. I’m not a big TV guy. If I watch anything, it’s the outdoor channel, hunting shows or I watch, I’m hooked on, ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ I watch it, I tape it, I watch it all the time and I can probably tell you every episode. Barney Fife is my hero.

15. What is your all-time favorite movie?

Oh boy. Probably ‘Gladiator.’ I’ve always liked that. From ‘Gladiator’ to ‘Stripes’ to ‘Brave Heart,’ [I like them all]…any Eddie Murphy movie [too].

16. you could be any TV character, who would you choose?

I’ve always loved John Wayne; I’ve always loved Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood was so cool. Probably one of those two.

In this edition of 'Throwback Thursday' we take a look back at Bills Pro Bowlers throughout franchise history.

17. Do you have any weird food combinations that you enjoy?

Not really. Well before my cancer, I pretty much ate about everything. I just love food. My favorite foods though are stuffed green peppers and my aunt Toni’s sauce. There’s nobody that makes better sauce than my aunt Toni. She made it for me before every single home game that they came up for, which was pretty much the majority of them. I would take sauce over for about five or six players, I would bring my aunt Toni’s sauce and meatballs over for a bunch of guys on Saturday nights when we had home games…

18. Do you prefer sweet or savory foods?

Sweet without a doubt.

19. What is the best compliment that you’ve ever received?

I’m not very good at receiving those. People always tell me that. I know [one] from the standpoint [of]…probably the last five years [is] that I inspire others to never give up and that I’ve changed their family members’ outlook that were in a bad frame of mind because of cancer. That’s always a good one [to hear].

20. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring three items, what would you bring?

Probably shoes, something to wear on my feet. A lighter, in case you got cold and…probably a good knife with a couple of things you could use on that knife.

21. Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m a pretty good marksman.

22. What item do you have way too much of in your house?

Pillows. Here’s the thing, my wife, when she makes our bed, she puts like 10 [or] 12 pillows on it.

23. What are your favorite nicknames?

JK, Jimbo and Machine Gun Kelly.

24. What is something common from your childhood [or generation] that will seem strange to your grandchildren or future generations?

I’m very superstitious. Even when I was young, when I did something, and it went well, I continued to do it. And when I played for the Bills, I always made sure that Bud Carpenter taped my knees and Eddie Abramoski taped my ankles and I had to have those guys. I put my right thigh pad in before my left thigh pad and I always, always walked out to warm up with Steve Tasker.

Bills quarterback Frank Reich talks to Jim Kelly on the sidelines during a game.
Bills quarterback Frank Reich talks to Jim Kelly on the sidelines during a game.

25. I heard you also used to go to get dinner or get milkshakes with Frank Reich routinely, is that right?

Yeah. I would have chocolate and he would have vanilla milkshakes. I loved chocolate and he loved vanilla and also, I used to throw up before every single game – even in high school. In the NFL, if I didn’t throw up, my offensive linemen would not leave the locker room until I did. So, there were times that I went back there, and I had to make myself throw up just so they would be excited to go out and play.

To follow along with Kelly on his latest Pro Bowl adventure, check back on buffalobills.com and the team’s social media accounts throughout the week.

Bills fans, there’s still time to purchase tickets to the Pro Bowl! New this year, not only will your ticket get you into the game that culminates an amazing Pro Bowl week, it will also give you special access to dedicated AFC and NFC seating sections, player red carpet viewing, special Kid Zone activities, postgame fireworks and more. Grab your tickets now by clicking here.

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