A huge crowd turned out for Jim Kelly's golf outing, as the ex-Bills quarterback battles cancer. (Associated Press file photo)
Batavia, N.Y. — Dan Marino left his Dolphins colors behind in exchange for a Bills blue T-shirt with the words “Kelly Tough” printed on the front.
Anything for a dear friend.
“Everybody loves Jim; I love him too, man,” Marino said Monday before the start of Jim Kelly’s annual charitable golf tournament. “I just can’t wait for him to get better and get back out here with us.”
Marino, the former Dolphins quarterback and Kelly’s longtime rival, was on hand in what was one of the largest turnouts of the tournament’s 28-year history. The only one missing was Kelly, himself.
Too weak to attend, the Bills Hall of Fame quarterback is recovering in a hospital in Buffalo less than a week after completing radiation and chemotherapy sessions to treat sinus cancer, which spread from his jaw.
Though absent, Kelly’s presence resonated on the golf course about a half-hour outside of Buffalo.
“He’s here in spirit,” said former Bills general manager Bill Polian, who joined Marino in visiting Kelly last weekend. “And everybody is here to not only aid his charity endeavors, but to show their support for him and our affection for him.”
Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas had to stop in mid-sentence to choke back his emotions. Thomas was nearly overwhelmed while attempting to assess the impact Kelly has made beyond football, through his Kelly for Kids Foundation, which has distributed more than $5 million to charities across the region.
“He’s truly missed by not being here, but we all understand the circumstances,” Thomas said. “To me, this turnout just shows the power of how much people care about Jim.”
Dan Kelly, Jim’s brother, says the initial prognosis looks good.
Marino is part of suit
Hall of Fame quarterback Marino is among the latest group of football players to file a concussion-related lawsuit against the National Football League.
The 52-year-old former Miami Dolphins quarterback is one of 15 former players who filed a lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia last week.
Marino and the other 14 plaintiffs join more than 4,800 others who have alleged the NFL misled players about the long-term dangers of concussions. The NFL has denied those claims.
The lawsuit doesn’t specify any medical problems suffered by the plaintiffs including Marino, who retired in 1999. It seeks unspecified damages and medical monitoring.
The NFL and the original group of players agreed on a $765 million settlement last August. But the settlement was rejected by a federal judge in January.
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