Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly said he was diagnosed with cancer in his upper jaw bone and that his prognosis for recovery is very good.
Kelly, who led the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowl appearances from 1991 to 1994, said he was recently diagnosed with Squamous-cell carcinoma that is isolated in his upper jaw and that he will have surgery on June 7, according to a statement released through the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“With the excellent medical care that I will be receiving and the loving care of my wife, Jill, and my daughters, Erin and Camryn, and the support of my entire family and friends, I am extremely confident in my road to recovery,” Kelly said. “I plan to tackle this challenge head on, as we Kellys always do, with toughness, perseverance and faith.”
The 53-year-old Kelly was inducted into the Canton, Ohio-based Hall of Fame in 2002 after playing his entire NFL career with the Bills, from 1986 to 1996. Kelly was named a first-team All-Pro in 1991. His 35,467 career passing yards rank 18th in NFL history, while his 237 touchdowns thrown are 20th.
The Bills selected Kelly with the 14th pick in the 1983 NFL draft in a first round that included six quarterbacks, with fellow Hall of Fame passer John Elway the top choice. Kelly opted to join the United States Football League, playing for the Houston Gamblers for two seasons before the league folded.
The Bills, with Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas and standout wide receiver Andre Reed, excelled at the no-huddle offense under Kelly. They also became the only team in league history to lose four straight Super Bowls. The first defeat was 20-19 to the New York Giants that was decided when Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field-goal try with nine seconds left that would have given Buffalo the lead, and they also dropped title games to the Washington Redskins and twice to the Dallas Cowboys.
Kelly also has worked to increased awareness about Globoid-Cell Leukodystrophy, or Krabbe disease, which claimed the life of his son, Hunter, at age 8.