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Dear Ralph: Even Jim Kelly Can Be Wrong

Posted on February 23, 2011 by Patrick Moran

Jim Kelly HOFYou’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s a bigger fan of Jim Kelly than myself.  He’s among my favorite football players of all-time and bar none, my favorite Buffalo Bill. I’ve gotten into fights (literally) with fans who refuse to include him among the game’s greatest quarterbacks ever.  He’s the only player current or past I own multiple jerseys of.

To this day, Kelly is one of only a few individuals I’m still a bit awestruck by when in the same room. He’s the closest thing in sports I have to a hero, mainly due to such a deep respect for his trademark toughness above all else.

Back in 2002 I got a media credential to cover his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Of all the days on the calendar, my sister had to pick August 2 as her date to get married.  I was forced to cancel my trip to Canton, Ohio that year because of the wedding.  I’ve yet to fully forgive her.

Having said that, I really hope Bills owner Ralph Wilson doesn’t listen much these days to what Kelly has to say publicly when it comes to who the Bills should… and shouldn’t have quarterbacking the team.  In a blog entry by NFL.com senior writer Vic Carucci, he said he ran into Kelly at the airport and while discussing Buffalo quarterback possibilities, it was pretty clear he didn’t think it would be a good idea for the team to take Cam Newton with the third overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

“When you use a pick that high, you’d better be a hundred percent sure about what you’re getting,” Kelly told Carucci.  “Well, maybe you can’t ever be a hundred percent sure about anyone, but…”

Carucci said he quickly got the impression that Kelly wasn’t a fan of Newton.

Rewind to about a year ago.  There was growing speculation the Bills were interested in acquiring then-Eagles third string quarterback Michael Vick.  Kelly told anyone who would listen, including NFL.com, that he didn’t like Vick personally and him coming to Buffalo wouldn’t work out.

“I hope Michael Vick does not become a Buffalo Bill,” Kelly said at the time.  ”I don’t want him, and I know there’s a lot of other people who don’t want him to come there. But it’s not my decision. For me, it’s about personal reasons why I don’t want him on the Bills. We’ll leave it at that.”

Now, Kelly doesn’t like Vick personally, and whether he’s right or wrong,  he had the right to not want him here for personal reasons and in Kelly’s defense, he cited personal reasons.  But in other interviews, Kelly said that Vick would be a poor fit on the field as well as off it, and predicted the Bills would rue the day they traded for him.

Mike VickAbout a year later, Vick was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year by a landslide and finished second to only Tom Brady in NFL MVP voting.  He threw for over 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns with just six interceptions, and ran for 676 yards and nine more scores.

Even the most ardent Vick detractors are level headed enough to comprehend there’s no way the Bills are a 4-12 football team last season had Vick been behind center.  And with weapons like Lee Evans, Stevie Johnson, Roscoe Parrish and C.J. Spiller, the Bills arguably have better skill players overall than what Vick has in Philadelphia.

Personal feelings aside, Kelly was dead-wrong about Vick from everything we’ve witnessed over the last several months.

It’s become obvious Kelly has a strong opinion on quarterbacks and this time it’s about Newton.  Again, he’s earned every right to express himself and when he does, people will want to listen.

But that doesn’t make him right.  Carucci said Kelly clearly seems more comfortable with the Bills sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Kelly said about him “that guy is tough.”

Kelly’s right about one thing: Fitzpatrick is tough.  Just like Aaron Maybin is fast, Chris Kelsay is gritty, Donte Whitner is a leader and Leodis McKelvin is athletic.

The Bills without question need plenty of help defensively up front.  But in the opinion of someone far less credible than Kelly, above all else they need winners and game-changers.

Cam Newton is a winner. He’s also a great fit for Chan Gailey’s “pistol” offense.  Sorry if you don’t like him just as you didn’t Vick, Jimbo. It pains me to say, but even your heroes can be wrong.

I’m not ready to say Wilson, Buddy Nix and anyone else with input on the decision should draft Newton if they don’t feel he’s a franchise quarterback.  But at the very least, I hope Kelly’s opinion positively has no bearing on their thought process at all. If he’s willing to talk to reporters about not wanting Newton, I can only imagine what he’s telling Wilson.

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8 Comments on Dear Ralph: Even Jim Kelly Can Be Wrong

  1. C. Roberts

    Good take, Pat. I’ve been saying for years that Kelly’s opinions are way, way off. If you recall, he’s given full endorsement to Losman and Edwards – before they hit the field as full-time starts, of course. The guy might have been an awesome quarterback, but having an eye for talent is certainly not one of his better attributes.

  2. Phil

    Personally, I hope Buddy IS paying some attention to what Kelly says. I don’t care what that dirtbag Vick did in Philly….he’s still a convicted felon who should’ve never been allowed in the NFL…he showed by chickening out of the Oprah appearance that he hasn’t changed much if it all. Only a matter of time before he gets busted for something again.
    As far as Newton, Kelly’s right again…if you have the 3rd overall pick, it HAS to hit…and Newton…well, I think the only way you see that many red flags is if you gather up all the NFL head coaches together with their challenge flags. There were questions about his eligibility with what his father did, he’s already getting endorsements…which says his concentration is lacking…and let’s not forget the ego….and he’s only played 1 season in Division 1…I hope anyone in favor of drafting him embraced the Maybin pick…because it’s the same thing…1-year wonder. Heck, I’m a Penn State fan and I was questioning the Maybin pick

  3. joe smith

    sounds racist to me!

  4. Joe

    I agree with Jimbo and Phil. First of all Newton was bought and paid for by his own father,lets be real about everything. Secondly he showed he was no world beater in the title game even though they did win, barely. I would believe a stud type player must be available with #3 or maybe even a trade that got a player or two and an additional pick too. QB is too important to get the flavor of the month and this team needs more improvement is some other areas first.

  5. Laptop Battery

    Watching “shedding for the wedding”. Well Kelly’s watching I’m just waiting for this broad to barf everywhere. I miss sitcoms

  6. Carl Burton

    Jim Kelly can be wrong, who amoung us can’t be, however I will eat my keyboard if he is wrong about Newton. The Bills need to stay away from 1 year wonders who have had run-ins with the law and been dismissed from their first college stop. Quarterbacking in the NFL is done 90% above the shoulders and I believe that is where all of us will find Newton lacking the most. Please Buddy stay away from Cam Newton for the sake of Bills’ fans everywhere.

  7. Reddog9

    I really don’t understand why people care that Newton’s father worked the corrupt college system! The NCAA rules are awful and continue to take advantage of the athletes. Let the alumni pay these kids for summer jobs. Give them a monthly stipend. Let them transfer without losing eligibility when their coach bolts or the school gets hit with sanctions from prior years, etc.
    This conversation should be about whether or not Newton will be a great pro QB (anyone’s guess at this point) not about how he ended up at Auburn……

  8. Ian

    You’re right, with Michael Vick behind center, and our D still giving up points on every opposing drive, 30 points a game, me might have gotten up to 5-11…

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