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posted: 8/5/2014 5:18 AM

Former Bills quarterback Kelly truly a winner

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  • Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, back, hugs inductee Andre Reed during the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony Saturday.

    Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, back, hugs inductee Andre Reed during the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony Saturday.
    Associated Press


I enjoyed seeing Buffalo Bills' legend Jim Kelly at the Football Hall of Fame induction last weekend.

Even though he played for another team, Kelly was one of those guys that I watched. The Hall of Famer, who has been diagnosed with cancer of the jaw, introduced his favorite target -- Andre Reed for his induction.

Reed's acceptance speech drew the most attention because it made us cry. He graciously thanked many, but singled out Kelly, saying he wouldn't have been there without him.

Kelly and Reed never won the big game, but they did go to the Super Bowl four straight times, and with a break here or there they could have won at least one under head coach Marv Levy.

For about a five- or six-year span, the Bills were as good and consistent a team as I have ever seen. Last weekend, Kelly was up there laughing like he was the luckiest guy in the world.

Many people consider Joe Montana the man or Brett Favre, but no one mentions Kelly -- the only QB to appear in four straight Super Bowls. Most QB's who actually have won one have a difficult time returning at all, let alone the following year.

Didn't we all think the 1985 Chicago Bears with Jim McMahon, Walter Payton and Mike Ditka were going to win numerous championships? Yes, they gave us one Super Bowl championship, but they never got back there.

Maybe the AFC wasn't the toughest league, but the Bills managed to get to the big dance four straight times. They just lost to a better NFC team each time.

Can you really call the Buffalo Bills losers?

Nope, I don't think you can. We've all played or competed in something that we came close to winning, but didn't succeed. It's often said you learn the most by failure. The Bills learned from their failure, but they never failed. They were simply overmatched.

I played 16-inch softball on the North Side of Chicago in the 1980s with guys I had grown up with on a team called the Saints. We made it to the championship three years in a row, and we lost three times -- twice by one run.

Every year we would have a meeting to add players, and at the end of discussions we would just stay with the same guys. For years we lamented how we hadn't finished on top and hadn't gotten the job done.

A couple of weeks ago, we all got together at a wedding. Lo and behold, after 30-plus years we finally said to each other -- "Hey, we were pretty good."

We finally accepted that we got there, and we were the only team to make it to the championship three years in a row.

I guess time really does heal most disappointments -- even in sports.

Jim Kelly and Andre Reed stole the show at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. They might have lost the big game, but that's fine. Thanks guys.

Program notes:

Follow me on Twitter@ north2north, and listen to Fox Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman and myself from 5-8 a.m. Monday through Friday on Fox Sports radio, and check me out on iHeart radio or

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at For more, visit

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