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Before he was a Bills legend, the quarterback wanted to play almost anywhere but Buffalo Wholesale NFL Jerseys.
Last month, when UCLA’s Josh Rosen essentially confirmed reports that he doesn’t want to play for the Cleveland Browns — “I’d rather be a lower pick at the right team than a higher one at the wrong team,” he said — he became the latest college quarterback to try to manipulate his landing spot in the NFL Draft.
In 2004, Eli Manning threatened to sit out the entire season if selected first by San Diego, prompting the Chargers to trade him to the New York Giants.
In 1983, John Elway vowed he would play professional baseball if he was drafted No. 1 overall by Baltimore, forcing the Colts to trade him to the Denver Broncos. (It helped that he was a second round draft pick by the New York Yankees.)
But there was another quarterback in the 1983 draft who tried to scare off teams: Jim Kelly. Although Kelly grew up an hour north of Pittsburgh, his four-year stint at the University of Miami (Fla.) taught him two things: It was better to be warm than cold, and it was more fun to win than lose.
So, Kelly told his agent he didn’t want to play for three cold-weather teams: the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings and the Buffalo Bills. When the Bills chose him anyway with the 14th overall pick, he instead signed with the USFL’s Houston Gamblers, telling reporters at the press conference, “Would you rather be in Houston or Buffalo?”
Alas, the USFL folded after the 1985 season and Kelly went to Buffalo, where he led the Bills to six division titles and four Super Bowl appearances during a Hall of Fame career.
Still, even though Kelly lives in Buffalo and is one of the city’s icons, he understands Rosen’s attitude.
“I get it, I do, because that was me,” he said, speaking by phone this week. “Eli Manning, same thing. John Elway, same thing. If you’re that good, you can say that and maybe you can do that (choose your team).
“I was lucky. I had a choice. And it all worked out for me, because I live here now and I’ve lived here for 30 years. I was part of changing a city that was not doing well. We finally got to the playoffs and when I was playing, I had the time of my life. The people, the fans, my family members — they all loved it.”
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“But, if that’s what he (Rosen) decides he wants to do, I understand,” he said.
Kelly, who will return to Canton on June 14 for The Canton Repository’s Best of Stark event, is one of Canton’s biggest supporters. A member of the 2002 Hall of Fame class, he returns each year for the enshrinement and also attends events like the Hall of Fame’s Day out with Dad.
“They’ll have to tell me not to come back,” he said, laughing. “I grew up near Pittsburgh and looked up to guys like Terry Bradshaw and Jack Ham and Joe Greene and never in a million years thought I’d be in the Hall of Fame with them.”
Kelly said his first trip to Canton came in the 1970s when his older brother, Pat, played in the Hall of Fame Game with the Detroit Lions.
“I always thought that (the Hall) was for the greatest of the greatest, guys like Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach and Bob Griese and Bart Starr,” he said. “Then I go to my first one and I see guys like Merlin Olson and Deacon Jones and Jack Ham and Jack Lambert and Gale Sayers and it just amazed me. I was like, ‘Am I really a part of this group?’ Of course, now that I am, it’s really cool.”
Belichick praises documentary
Former McKinley coach Thom McDaniels recently shared a cool story on his Facebook page about the McKinley-Massillon documentary “Timeless Rivals,” which features his son, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts) and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick:
“While staying in the Patriots’ team hotel the night before their game with Buffalo on Dec 3, I left Josh’s room to retrieve something in my room for him. The hallway and the waiting area outside the elevator were empty, vacant. The elevator door opened. Without making eye contact with the person exiting the elevator, I stepped aside to make room for him and his luggage. As he exited, I glanced up. He wasn’t making eye contact either. We passed each other, both heads down. Just as I entered the elevator, he spoke. “Thom, I watched the Timeless Rivals documentary. I loved it.” Not certain how long this conversation would last, I stood one leg in the elevator, the other in the hallway. With the elevator door opening and closing against my forearm, the conversation continued. At some point I stepped into the hallway, the elevator door closed, and the elevator descended. For another 10 or 15 minutes, I listened as Bill Belichick discussed the quality of the film, the people he knew who were featured in the film, the historical significance of the film, his newfound appreciation for the rivalry, and the play of the quarterback/kicker who now served as his OC. It was such a good conversation and his interest so genuine and sincere, I forgot what I went to my room to retrieve for Josh.”
Although Josh had purchased 15 copies of the DVDs for every member of the Patriots’ staff a few weeks earlier, McDaniels wasn’t sure Belichick had even watched it until that conversation.
“He’s a lover of the game and a historian of of the game and he was genuinely fascinated by it,” McDaniels told me. “I wasn’t expecting to have a prolonged conversation, so I was standing at the elevator door and it was opening and closing on my forearm and I finally thought, ‘This is stupid.’ So I stepped out of the elevator and we had a really cool 10- or 15-minute conversation.”
As for the part about McDaniels not making eye contact, that stems from his coaching days.
“Somewhere in my 16 years in Canton as a head coach, and probably in my first eight, I became a ‘don’t make eye contact’ guy,” he said. “Especially in public, especially in crowded places. Because when I came off the field after a not-so-good first half or a not-so-good-game, under the south stands there could be a contingent of people waiting with insults. I can’t speak for Bill, but I’m sure if he made eye contact with everyone he encountered on his way through the hotel, he’d never get to his room.”
Eric Loughry, one of the producers of “Timeless Rivals,” said he’s confident the film will find a national platform.
“We’ve entered ‘Timeless Rivals’ in several film festivals and have also gotten it into the hands of people at the NFL Network and the Big Ten Network,” he wrote in an email.
If you haven’t seen the film, you can order a copy of the DVD at Facebook.com/TimelessRivals.
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Pick the class contest
Think you can predict this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class?
If so, you could win some cool prizes.
For the second straight year, the Hall of Fame is sponsoring a contest allowing fans to predict this year’s class. The grand prize winner will receive a package that includes two tickets to the enshrinement, two tickets to the Hall of Fame Game, two tickets to the Concert for Legends, four admission tickets to the Hall of Fame, a four-night hotel stay and a one-year diamond membership to the Hall of Fame.
The package is worth $3,200.( If you’re saying to yourself, “I live in Stark County and don’t want to spend four nights in a hotel,” you clearly don’t wake up every morning to two brown diapers courtesy of your twin 2-year-olds.)
Visit profootballhof.com for more details.
Miles earns bowl MVP
Purdue defensive end Antoine Miles (McKinley) was named the defensive MVP for the American team at last weekend’s SPIRAL Tropical Bowl in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Miles had a sack and a quarterback hurry in a 26-20 win over the National team.
The game drew scouts from 27 NFL teams and six Canadian Football League teams.
A fifth-year senior, Miles appeared in all 12 games this season for the Boilermakers (7-6, 4-5 BIg Ten), making 15 tackles (5.5 for loss) with two sacks.
Around the NBA
Although the Portland Trail Blazers (24-21) are sixth in the Western Conference standings and GlenOak’s CJ McCollum is playing well (21.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists per game), New York Times basketball writer Marc Stein believes the team will trade him at some point in 2018. Stein, who used to work for ESPN, said the team doesn’t want to trade McCollum or guard Damian Lillard, but will need to break up the backcourt to get a talented frontcourt player. “No one’s suggesting it’ll happen before the Feb. 8 trade deadline, but Portland’s latest so-so season threatens to be the impetus that finally pushes the longtime Blazers owner Paul Allen in a new direction,” Stein said. McCollum is in the first year of a four-year, $106.7 million contract extension. … Sacramento Kings center Kosta Koufos (GlenOak) did not play in Friday’s 106-88 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. It was just the second DNP-Coaches Decision of the season but it might not be the last as the Kings (13-32) head for a youth movement over the second half of the season. The plan is for at least two veterans to sit out every game. Koufos is averaging 5.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game this season for Sacramento. He is making $8.4 million this year and has a player option for $8.7 million next season. When asked by the Sacramento Bee about the possibility of getting traded, Koufos said, “I understand it’s a business. If I get traded? Whatever happens or doesn’t happen, wish good things for others and good things will come back to you. And when your time is there, perform the best you can. I am thankful every day to have a job playing in the NBA.”
Harbaugh to speak
Former college football coach Jack Harbaugh will speak at Monday’s Hall of Fame Luncheon Club meeting at Tozzi’s on 12th. Harbaugh’s sons Jim (San Francisco 49ers) and John (Baltimore Ravens) coached against each other in Super Bowl XLVII. Jim is now the head coach at Michigan.