Bridget Maurer

Bridget Maurer

Published: 17 Oct 2023


Jim Kelly is a name that resonates with both football fans and movie lovers alike. Known for his role as a legendary quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, Kelly’s athletic prowess and leadership skills made him one of the most iconic figures in NFL history. But there’s much more to this charismatic athlete than meets the eye. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating life of Jim Kelly and uncover 15 intriguing facts that you may not know about him. From his battle with cancer to his philanthropic endeavors, Kelly has left an indelible mark on and off the field. So, whether you’re a die-hard football enthusiast or just curious about the man behind the spotlight, get ready to discover the many facets of Jim Kelly’s extraordinary journey.

Table of Contents

Jim Kelly played college football at the University of Miami.

Before his successful career in the NFL, Jim Kelly showcased his talent at the University of Miami, where he played as the starting quarterback for the Hurricanes. His exceptional skills and leadership on the field caught the attention of scouts and fans alike.

Kelly was selected as the 14th overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft.

In 1983, Jim Kelly was drafted by the Buffalo Bills as the 14th overall pick. This marked the beginning of his professional football journey, where he would go on to become one of the most prominent quarterbacks in NFL history.

He spent his entire NFL career with the Buffalo Bills.

Jim Kelly’s entire NFL career was spent with the Buffalo Bills. He played for the team from 1986 to 1996 and became the face of the franchise, leading the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances from 1990 to 1993.

Kelly is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the sport, Jim Kelly was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in He joined the elite group of football legends and solidified his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

He battled cancer and became an inspiration to many.

In 2013, Kelly was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a type of cancer affecting his jaw. Throughout his treatment and subsequent recovery, he exhibited immense courage and resilience, becoming an inspiration to not only sports fans but also those fighting their own battles.

Kelly’s signature play was the “K-Gun” no-huddle offense.

Jim Kelly was known for his command of the “K-Gun” no-huddle offense, which he ran with great success during his time with the Bills. This high-tempo and unpredictable offensive strategy posed significant challenges for opposing defenses.

He led the Buffalo Bills to six division titles.

Thanks to Jim Kelly’s exceptional leadership and skill, the Buffalo Bills won six division titles during his tenure as the team’s quarterback. He played a crucial role in establishing the Bills as a dominant force in the AFC East.

Kelly was a five-time Pro Bowl selection.

Jim Kelly’s exceptional performance on the field earned him five Pro Bowl selections, solidifying his status as one of the premier quarterbacks of his era. His ability to deliver accurate passes and lead his team to victory made him a fan favorite.

He was known for his strong arm and ability to throw deep passes.

One of Jim Kelly’s trademarks as a quarterback was his powerful arm and ability to throw deep passes. His precision and strength became a source of fear for opposing defenses, as he consistently made long throws with ease.

Kelly holds multiple Buffalo Bills’ franchise records.

As a testament to his exceptional career, Jim Kelly still holds numerous franchise records for the Buffalo Bills. These include records for passing yards, passing touchdowns, and completions, highlighting his impact on the team’s success.

He founded the Hunter’s Hope Foundation.

Following the diagnosis of his son, who suffered from Krabbe disease, Jim Kelly and his wife founded the Hunter’s Hope Foundation. The organization aims to raise awareness and funds for research on leukodystrophy, the class of diseases that includes Krabbe disease.

Kelly’s jersey number, 12, was retired by the Buffalo Bills.

In 2002, the Buffalo Bills retired Jim Kelly’s jersey number, 12, as a tribute to his contributions to the franchise. This gesture further solidified his status as one of the most revered figures in Bills’ history.

He starred in the movie “Black Belt Jones”.

Outside of football, Jim Kelly showcased his martial arts skills in the movie “Black Belt Jones” in His impressive on-screen presence added another dimension to his multifaceted career.

Kelly was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame.

In recognition of his achievements as a college football player, Jim Kelly was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame. This honor further attests to his impact and success in the world of football.

He remains a beloved figure in Buffalo and beyond.

Even after retiring from professional football, Jim Kelly continues to be a beloved figure in Buffalo and beyond. His infectious personality, philanthropic efforts, and unwavering spirit have endeared him to fans worldwide, solidifying his place as a true sports icon.


Jim Kelly is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating figures in the world of celebrities. From his successful career in the entertainment industry to his philanthropic endeavors, there are many interesting aspects of his life that have garnered attention and respect. From his early days in the industry to his rise to fame and beyond, Kelly has left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of people around the world.

Whether you’re a fan of his work or simply curious about his life, these 15 fascinating facts about Jim Kelly offer a glimpse into the man behind the fame. From his passion for charity work to his love for adventure sports, Kelly’s life is as intriguing as his on-screen performances. So next time you watch one of his movies or see him on the red carpet, remember these facts and appreciate the extraordinary journey of Jim Kelly.


1. Was Jim Kelly a martial artist?

Yes, Jim Kelly was a skilled martial artist. He started studying karate at an early age and later earned a black belt in the art of Shorin-Ryu. His martial arts background played a significant role in his career as an actor, particularly in his iconic role in the movie “Enter the Dragon” alongside Bruce Lee.

2. What other movies did Jim Kelly appear in?

Aside from “Enter the Dragon,” Jim Kelly appeared in several other films, such as “Black Belt Jones,” “Three the Hard Way,” and “Black Samurai.” His dynamic on-screen presence and martial arts skills made him a sought-after actor in the 1970s action cinema.

3. Did Jim Kelly continue practicing martial arts?

Yes, even after his acting career, Jim Kelly continued to practice and teach martial arts. He opened his own martial arts school in Los Angeles, where he taught students of all ages.

4. Was Jim Kelly involved in any charitable endeavors?

Yes, Jim Kelly was known for his involvement in various charitable endeavors. He was particularly dedicated to supporting educational programs and initiatives for underprivileged youth.

5. Did Jim Kelly receive any awards for his contributions?

While Jim Kelly did not receive any major awards for his work in the industry, he was universally recognized and admired for his talent, charisma, and cultural impact. His roles in martial arts films paved the way for future generations of actors and brought greater diversity to Hollywood.