Jim Kelly has revealed his oral cancer has returned. The Pro Football Hall of Famer released the disappointing diagnosis in a statement which read in part:
“The oral cancer we hoped would be gone forever has returned. Although I was shocked and deeply saddened to receive this news, I know that God is with me.”
The Bills also released a statement which said in part: “We are deeply saddened to hear the news about Jim Kelly and his impending battle with cancer. Jim is a tough and courageous man and we know he will fight this battle with strength and determination.”
Kelly added he will focus on the “four F’s”: Faith, family, friends and fans. He also vowed to stay “Kelly Tough” and have faith through difficult times. The Bills also pledged to support the Kelly family and asked their fans to pray for Jim during the treatment process.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kelly Was Declared Cancer-Free in 2014
On Sept. 4, 2014, Jim’s wife Jill posted an Instagram video of Jim calling one of their daughters with the good news that he was cancer free. “This is some of the greatest news I’ve ever gotten,” Kelly said in a statement. “It’s been a long road, and I’m still not back to 100 percent, but I have a lot to be thankful for.”
Kelly was originally diagnosed with squamous cell car carcinoma of the upper jawbone in June 2013. He underwent surgery to remove the tumors, but the cancer returned in March 2014. After weeks of chemotherapy and radiation, he was finally declared cancer free later that year. He has been screened for cancer periodically since.
2. Kelly’s Family Will Be by His Side Every Step of The Way
Kelly’s family has been a rock through the entire process and it doesn’t appear that will change this time around. After news broke of Jim’s cancer returning, a flurry of support came from his family’s social media platforms.
Most notably, on Instagram, where both Jim’s wife and daughter immediately showed their support. Jim’s daughter Erin said: “I don’t understand. But I have to choose to hold onto the only thing I am sure of… Jesus.”
Jim’s wife Jill said: “We are shocked, heartbroken, sad, angry, confused, and just darn tired. Yet, despite how we feel, we KNOW that God is a promise maker and keeper.”
3. Teams Around The League Are Showing Support
Multiple teams have tweeted out messages of prayer and support for Kelly and his family since news of his cancer returning broke. The Los Angeles Rams replied directly to the Bills’ tweet about the news by saying: “Sending our support to Jim Kelly, his family + the Bills during this tough time.” The Rams also added the hashtags #PrayersforJK and #KellyTough.
The New York Giants, who upset Kelly and the Bills in Super Bowl XXV tweeted: “Sending thoughts and prayers to Jim Kelly, his family and the @buffalobills organization. #KellyTough”. The Bills’ AFC East rival New England Patriots also showed support, sending out a short but sweet tweet: “Sending lots of love from New England. #KellyTough”
4. So Are His Former Teammates
Perhaps the most emphatic message came from one of Kelly’s most trusted teammates, wide receiver Andre Reed, who tweeted “Prayers up for my QB. Love him like my family.” Some other prominent football names who have also shown their support include Joe Thiesmann, Ron Jaworski and Cris Carter. Non-football celebrities like legendary wrestler Ric Flair and New York Senator Chuck Schumer.
Schumer’s tweet said: “Jim Kelly is as tough as they come. He’s had WNY’s back for more than 30 years and it’s once again our turn to have his. We love you, Jim. Get well soon. #KellyTough #PrayersForJK”
5. Kelly is a Five-Time Pro Bowler & Pro Football Hall of Famer
His No. 12 jersey is retired by the Bills. The quarterback led Buffalo to four straight AFC championships and Super Bowl Appearances. He spent all 11 of his NFL seasons with the Bills. In his career, Kelly threw for 35,467 yards with 237 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Kelly was drafted by the Bills in the 1st round of the 1983 draft with the 14th overall selection out of the University of Miami. The western Pennsylvania native was a star at East Brady High school in East Brady, PA, about 50 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.