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Optimism abounds for Bills’ upcoming season at annual Jim Kelly Charity Golf Tournament | Buffalo Bills News | NFL

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Jim Kelly had much to be grateful for on Monday.

The Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback was back at the 35th annual charity golf tournament that bears his name. He spent a wonderful morning at Terry Hills Golf Course in Batavia, greeting old friends and new friends, many of whom came from across the country to support the annual event. Kelly was forced to miss last year’s version of the tournament as he recovered from ankle replacement surgery.

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“I feel good. I’m blessed to be here,” he said. “I like it, just to see all my friends that I don’t get to see all the time. I was lucky to have very, very good friends.

They came, as they do year after year, to help support the Kelly for Kids Foundation, but also to support Kelly, 62, who has battled cancer and many other health issues since retiring from the NFL .

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“It’s Jim Kelly. He’s my boy,” said tournament regular Chris “Shooter McGavin” McDonald. “I love him and I love the whole Kelly family.”

The many relationships Kelly has forged during and after his playing days were evident on Monday, as more than 200 participants took part in the tournament.

“Even before we came to Buffalo we were going to the quarterback challenge, he was always such a guy who was so welcoming to us young people and then when I got here he took me under his wing. and was incredibly kind and generous to me and to our family,” former Bills and New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe said. “He’s just a good person. It’s great to see him back on his feet and healthy. Coming back here, I ran into Jim at an event six or seven months ago and he told me. said, ‘Hey, you should come.’ It was like, ‘Okay, we’ll be there.’ “

Several of Kelly’s former teammates, including Hall of Famers Bruce Smith and Thurman Thomas, were in attendance. So did former Bills general manager Bill Polian, himself a Hall of Famer, and Wall of Fame linebacker Darryl Talley. Overall, the team’s enthusiasm for the 2022 season was evident.

“I’m extremely excited for the future,” Smith said. “That window of opportunity to win a championship, we’re in its infancy. With the core of this team, obviously Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and now Von Miller and so many others. … This team is made to win. Now, we just have to go out and have fun and perform.

The Bills will enter the season as Super Bowl favorites – something that hasn’t been the case since many of those who were at Terry Hills on Monday played for the team. Of course, that comes with its own set of challenges.

“I see a very tight-knit team, I see a team that plays for each other, I see a team that’s ready to fight in any situation,” Talley said. “The only thing is I think they’re going to have to play at the front of the pack, and it’s different playing at the front of the pack than playing at the bottom of the pack. When you play from the front, everyone is there to catch you. When you play from the back, you’re looking to catch everyone. That’s the thing they’re going to have to deal with.”

“You talk to reporters and fans, it’s the Super Bowl or the bust. I watch it, I take one thing at a time,” Kelly said. “As a player, if you ever played the game, you would understand it. But yes, they look great. The biggest key, I think we all know, is to stay healthy. We need to keep our star players healthy.

During his annual football camp, Kelly gave advice to the Bills’ new offensive coordinator, Ken Dorsey, on the subject.

“I said, ‘The only thing I have to say, mate, limit the number of games called for Josh (Allen) to run.’ I get the scramble, but I don’t want to see it eight to 10 times on a keeper who’s been set up from the touchline,” Kelly said. “No, we don’t need all that. I’m excited. I think everyone here is. The Bills Mafia has everyone, they’ve got this elder. I know from talking to Bruce and Thurman, they’re excited too.

Bledsoe only spent three years with the Bills in the early 2000s, but that time was enough for him to develop a soft spot for Western New York. He admitted to being heartbroken by the end of last year’s playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Especially knowing that the AFC championship game would have been here in Buffalo. I would have moved heaven and earth to get here that week because this area deserves it,” he said. “I always support the Bills. It was just a special thing to be here. The fans here are so loyal, they’re so good. For the fans as much as anything else, I’d love to see them win a championship. I I think everyone has high expectations for them. They play great defense. They have a great quarterback. They have weapons on the outside. They have all the pieces in place to really make a run.

The Bills hope Von Miller is the final piece of that puzzle. His acquisition, according to Polian, was the icing on the cake for current general manager Brandon Beane.

“When you look at the composition of that roster, I’d say he may have had the best offseason of anyone in the National Football League,” Polian said of Beane.

While the team’s current prospects got everyone excited on Monday, so does the team’s stadium deal with New York State which should secure its long-term prospects out west. from New York.

“It’s critical,” Smith said. “Buffalo wouldn’t be Buffalo without the Bills. Yes, the two go together.

“Thanks to the Pegulas they have it, and thanks to the governor they have it,” Polian said. “She became a native of Western New York. People outside of Western New York don’t understand the place the Bills have in the civic life of that community. Kathy Hochul knows that for sure, everything like the delegation that represents Western New York in the Legislature. So they stepped up, and so did the Pegulas by buying the team and keeping it here. … The future looks bright, on the field as well as outside.

As for Kelly, he spent Monday driving from group to group on the course, doing his best to at least say hello to each group – which is no small task.

“My football coach in high school, my roommate in college, they ride with me today,” he said. “I try to hit with everyone. I try to. I can’t hit everyone, but I try to hit our main sponsors and some friends I haven’t seen.

As he spoke, carts began to roll by, signaling that the start of the game was only moments away.

McDonald summed up the next best thing: “It’s a golf-interrupted party. It is what it is. The party here – I’ve been to many golf tournaments – is one of the funniest on the planet.

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