Jim Kelly's former teammates gather together, post inspirational photo on Jim's recovery


Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly got a visit from some old friends this week as he recovers from oral cancer surgery.

Former Bills teammates Thurman Thomas, Steve Tasker and Bruce Smith, as well as former Bills communications director Scott Berchtold, all hung out with Kelly. They presumably discussed the good old days and Kelly’s remarkable recovery from surgery to remove oral cancer from his jaw.

“What a night it was. A big thank you to Bruce flying in and joining Thurman, Steve and Scott on a visit to my home. You all made my night. Also a big thank you to Dennis from Ilio DiPaulo Restaurant. Loved the pasta. The Best,” Kelly wrote on Instagram, while attaching a photo of him and his friends together.

Thomas, Smith and Tasker, along with Kelly, were all on the Bills during the team’s glory days, when Buffalo appeared in four straight Super Bowls from 1990 to 1993.

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“Just some good ole boys hanging out tonight! So thankful for the love these men have for each other. So many stories. And laughs. What a blessing!” Jim’s wife Jill Kelly wrote on Instagram.

On March 28, Kelly had cancer removed from his upper jaw and lymph nodes, and then had his jaw restructured.

It was a recurrence of squamous cell carcinoma that was similar to the type of cancer he had surgically removed from his upper left jaw in 2015. It was the third time he has had surgery to remove oral cancer. The first was in 2013.

The doctor that performed the surgery, Dr. Mark Urken from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said Kelly had made a strong recovery.

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“The speed of that process, considering the extensive nature of his surgery, was a function of his toughness, the firmness of his resolve, his faith and the support of his family,” Urken told reporters. “All of those factors will continue to serve him well as he moves on to the next phase of his rehabilitation.”

On April 25, Kelly returned to his home in Orchard Park, New York, to continue his recovery. He has made frequent trips to New York City to see his doctors, the Orchard Park Bee reported.

“Being home changes everything,” Jill Kelly told the Bee recently. “In any situation that Jim’s ever been in regarding his health, last time he went through cancer and the time before that, the Buffalo community and the Bills fans rallying around him, and him being able to come home after those procedures, made a tremendous difference. And it’s doing that again.”

She said Jim is hoping to walk in the fourth annual Kelly Tough 12K race, which the Kellys created in 2015 to benefit Hunter’s Hope.

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Hunter’s Hope is a foundation the family established in 1997 after their son, Hunter, was diagnosed with Krabbe Leukodystrophy, a fatal nervous system disease. Hunter, who was born on Feb. 14, 1997, passed away on Aug. 5, 2005, when he was just 8 years old. Hunter’s Hope raises awareness for Krabbe Leukodystrophy and promotes newborn screening.

The Kelly Tough 12K will run on May 18 in Orchard Park.

Jill Kelly said her husband’s resolve is strong, despite his weak bodily state.

“I can tell that he’s tired, but I also know too that his resolve, and his courage, remain steadfast,” she told the Bee. “As swift as we can walk, we’ll be walking. Anytime we have an opportunity to be around the Western New York community, those who support Hunter’s Hope, those who get it and appreciate why we continue to do what we do for kids like our son, it’s a blessing. It’s always a blessing.”

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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