This is an article from the Jan. 10, 2011 issue
HALL OF FAMER
The former quarterback threw for more than 9,800 yards in two seasons in the USFL (below) before leading the Bills to four AFC championships
Dan Patrick:Did you make it to midnight on New Year's Eve?
Jim Kelly: As a matter of fact I did stay up. We stayed up, with the horns—of course, that's all the kids wanted to do. They were blowing those horns at 11:30, and I wanted to jack them out of their hands like, C'mon, it's not midnight yet. [Laughs.]
DP:When you were playing, did you ever have a late night that affected you the next day?
JK: No. The only thing I ever had the night before a game was a glass of wine at dinner if we were on the road and we'd gone to an Italian restaurant. You have to remember, I called the plays. It was tough enough doing it with a straight head and six concussions, let alone trying to do it with a hangover. But I know there are players who have. [Laughs.]
DP:O.K., don't name names. But what's the worst you saw?
DP:Yeah. Did anyone throw up?
JK: Well, I threw up before every game. Everybody probably could have said I had a hangover.
DP:Every single game?
JK: Every game, including high school. Even basketball. The interesting thing about it was, we were so superstitious [in Buffalo] that my offensive line would not leave the locker room until I threw up. I shouldn't say I threw up every game. Probably 95 percent of the time. But the times I didn't think I needed to or it wasn't one of those games where I was so pumped up—like if we had [already] clinched—those games the offensive line wouldn't leave. So I went in there and pretended, just to keep those guys happy.
DP:You have one Hall of Fame ballot to cast. Peyton Manning or Tom Brady?
JK: I get asked the question, If you were a coach and you had Tom Brady and Peyton Manning on your team, who would you start? That is a difficult question because you have two totally different quarterbacks. Tom does stuff flawlessly. He's so smooth. Peyton has got those quick feet, and he's always wanting to move. So I'll start Tom Brady and bring Peyton in for the second half to run the two-minute drill.
DP:Greatest USFL quarterback: You, Steve Young, Bobby Hebert or Chuck Fusina?
JK: Chuck Fusina, good one. Two of those guys [Hebert and Fusina] won the USFL championship game. I had a kick [to win the 1984 game] go wide on me. Toni Fritsch.
DP:Let it go. Let it go.
JK: Well, you put me on the spot because you put my name in there. Of course I would say me. But if I had to pick one of the three, I would say Steve Young. You know about the greatest game nobody saw, right?
DP:Against the L.A. Express?
JK: Yeah. The Houston Gamblers, with me at quarterback, played against Steve Young and the Express. We were getting beat by three touchdowns with like eight minutes to go in the game, and we came back to beat them. The headline read, THE GREATEST GAME NO ONE SAW. There were like 7,000 fans in the 100,000-seat Coliseum.
DP:Steve Young said he had to lower his voice because he was afraid your defense could hear him calling the plays in the huddle.
JK: Steve's paranoid about everything.
• Bad Move
Talk about a tough start to the new year for UConn football players. First they lose to Oklahoma 48--20 in the Fiesta Bowl. Then their coach, Randy Edsall, informs them that he's leaving for Maryland a few hours after the game—by conference call. That's not right. I'm calling for a new NCAA rule: If a coach decides to leave for another job, he must tell his players in person, face to face. You're the reason kids went to that school in the first place, to play for you. A conference call? Edsall might as well have tweeted it.
• Foot Fun
I asked a few guests about the controversy surrounding Jets coach Rex Ryan and the Internet foot-fetish clips that purportedly feature his wife. Of course Charles Barkley had an interesting answer. He said he loves Ryan, but if he were a Jet, there's no way he'd let it pass without making a joke. "Oh, yeah, you've got to," Barkley said. "If I was on that team, the next meeting I'd have every player come in without their shoes on."
• Line of the week
Deion Sanders explained that he refused to take part in the bench press at the 1989 football combine because he thought it was a meaningless exercise for a cornerback: "Jerry Rice is not going to lay across my chest and let me lift him."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Ndamukong Suh talks about his rookie season.
2. Geno Auriemma discusses UConn's winning streak.
THE FINE PRINT: The Seahawks made NFL history. First team to make the playoffs and be mathematically eliminated for next season.