Important Dates in Bills History, presented by M&T Bank, helps fans recognize what's important. In the NFL, having a leader on offense is important, and on Feb. 2, 2002, Bills elite signal caller Jim Kelly was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Jim Kelly, a University of Miami product, was selected by the Bills with the No. 14 overall pick in the 1983 draft. However, Kelly elected to play for the Houston Gamblers of the United States Football League instead. After a successful two-year stint in Houston, Kelly made his way to Buffalo. During the 1986 season, his first with the Bills, Kelly accumulated 3,593 yards for 22 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
His time in Buffalo is characterized by many unforgettable moments, including multiple playoff berths. With Kelly at the helm, the Bills would appear in 17 playoff games and win four consecutive AFC Championships from 1990-1993—a feat that is still unrivaled today. Kelly is also credited with producing Buffalo's famous K-Gun offense, which debuted on Dec. 2, 1990 during the Bills 30-23 win over the Eagles at home.
The K-Gun featured a fast-paced, no-huddle offense, which posed a significant threat to Buffalo's opposition. Standing in the shotgun formation, Kelly consistently connected with members of Buffalo's top-tier receiving corps which included Hall of Famer Andre Reed. Not only did the K-Gun allow the Bills to gash defenses through the air, it paved the way for running back Thurman Thomas to dominate on the ground and later earn a Hall of Fame induction. Kelly's strong aerial attack coupled with Thomas' running ability, proved to be a winning combination.
Putting together 26 300 yard passing performances during his 11 seasons with the Bills, Kelly made his way to the record books. While in Buffalo he was selected to the Pro Bowl five times in 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991 and 1992, and was named the Player of the Game in 1990. Kelly retired from the NFL in 1996 after putting up 35,467 yards passing for 237 touchdowns and 175 interceptions. As the franchise's all-time leading passer, Kelly also posted eight seasons with 3,000 yards or more.
Kelly's career was celebrated on Nov. 18, 2001 when he was inducted onto the Wall of Fame and again on Aug. 3, 2002 at Fawcett Stadium in New Orleans, as he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Introduced by Marv Levy, his former head coach and fellow Hall of Famer, Kelly graciously reminisced on his time spent playing for the Bills and thanked the individuals that helped him along the way. Today, Kelly continues to make a positive impact on the Bills organization.