Rooting for Jim Kelly to Win His Most Important Battle

Mar 25, 2014 -- 9:34am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

It’s difficult to see our heroes lose battles on the gridiron. It’s even tougher to see them lose a battle in real life. When I learned Monday that Jim Kelly was battling cancer again, and that the disease had spread, it hit home to me how unimportant football really is.

According to the Washington Post, “Doctors at Erie County (N.Y.) Medical Center announced recently that the former Buffalo Bills quarterback’s cancer, which originally was discovered in his jaw in 2013, had spread. Kelly, 54, is undergoing treatment in New York and his wife and daughters have been posting photos and blogging to ask for prayers.

“The cancer’s back, aggressive, and starting to spread,” Jill Kelly blogged.

Since his relapse was announced, former teammates and the Buffalo community have rallied around Kelly and his family.

To say this pains me would be an understatement.

As a survivor myself, my mother continuing to fight and knowing many who have won and lost the battle, seeing Kelly – this rough a tough and rugged man forced to fight for his life – puts everything into perspective. Football is just a game.

I first saw Kelly play football at the University of Miami in 1981. He (and Howard Schnellenberger) helped to put the Hurricanes’ program on the map. But what I think I remembered him for in school was the fact Miami wasn’t that good at the time, and Kelly, being such a competitor, was abused by opponents because the offensive line could not block for him.

I also remember he was injured during his college career and some guy named Mark Richt (yes, the Mark Richt) was his backup at the time.

Kelly wanted to attend the Penn State University under Joe Paterno, but he was offered a linebacker scholarship instead of quarterback.  He went to the University of Miami. At Miami, he played an important role in helping build the university into one of the nation's premier collegiate football programs. He finished his career at Miami with 406 completions in 646 attempts for 5,233 yards and 32 TDs. This performance earned Kelly a place in the University of Miami Hall of Fame where he was inducted in 1992.

But all of that really means nothing. Cancer seems to be the illness of choice lately to strike down our athletes and those we cherish the most. At least it seems that way. Kelly, always known for his gun-slinging style and his take no prisoners attitude in Buffalo has already fought this battle once. He won the first round. Now, round two just started and the battle looks to be as intense as it can be.

I can only image Kelly will face this challenge head on – like he did in college and his pro career. And hopefully this becomes his Super Bowl. While he lost four in a row in Buffalo, this victory would be sweeter than anything he could have imagined in his career. And Kelly knows how to win when he has to.

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