Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly hosts monthly men's fellowship group to spread light of Christ

Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly has seen his share of hardships in his life.

In 1997, a year after he retired from the NFL, his infant son, Hunter, was diagnosed with Krabbe disease, which led to his death in 2005. Kelly went on to launch the Hunter’s Hope Foundation, and dedicate his 2002 Hall of Fame speech to Hunter.

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Then in 2013, Kelly announced he had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. He was subsequently in and out of hospitals for the next few years, then deemed cancer-free for three years. In March 2018, he announced the cancer had returned, but four months after surgery was declared cancer-free again.

None of this has stopped Kelly from living a life devoted to Jesus and seeking to spread positivity in a broken world.

Kelly recently joined Sports Spectrum’s “Weekly Slant” show to discuss the outlook for his beloved Bills in 2021, his faith in Christ and how he seeks to live out that faith in his life every day.

“It didn’t take me very long to realize that God had a plan for me,” Kelly said, “and that was to be able to share what I’ve been through to others that may be looking to give up, to not persevere through the tough times.”

 

One of the ways he does this is by hosting a monthly men’s fellowship group at his house, where roughly 20 men gather together to share about the challenges and joys in life and to encourage one another. The meetings are held on Mondays during the NFL season, and afterward, the men enjoy that week’s Monday Night Football match-up together.

It’s an opportunity for Kelly, now 61, to share about the struggles in his life and how God has granted him the grace to persevere through it all with a smile on his face. Kelly’s positive outlook also comes from his regular quiet time in the morning, studying and learning God’s Word, and focusing on the good things in life.

Kelly is most well-known for quarterbacking the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993, losing all four and never reaching another one. After his career, when Hunter received his diagnosis, Kelly and his wife, Jill, didn’t know where to turn. When Jim received his own cancer diagnosis, he and Jill faced another round of uncertainty about who to look to for guidance.

These experiences have led to Kelly teaming up with Merck to spread awareness about YourCancerStory.com. The site provides resources and answers questions for those who, like Kelly, weren’t sure where to turn after a recent diagnosis.

“I’m very blessed to be able to do that and to do so many things throughout the country as I travel and try to share with everybody my journey of what I went through and how to soften the blow a little bit on a lot of things that are going on,” Kelly said on the “Weekly Slant.”

He continued, “I’ve been tested over and over and over again, and I’m still being tested. But you just have to keep the faith. Keep that positive attitude.”

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