The Buffalo Bills dominated the AFC in the early 1990’s reaching 4 straight Super Bowls. Unfortunately, they couldn’t capture a Lombardi Trophy, but this shouldn’t tarnish the reputation of too much of their best ever Quarterback. Jim Kelly was born in February 1960, and after a good start to his football career at East Brady High School achieving All-State honours he went on to help the University of Miami become one of the powerhouse programs in the nation, and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1982. Kelly was part of the fabled Class of 1983 NFL Draft and although he was picked 14th overall, the third QB out of that impressive crop of passing talent, he instead opted to play in the brash USFL instead of going to the team that rated him and picked highly, the Buffalo Bills. Signing with the Houston Gamblers, he broke all manner of records under Mouse Davis’ run-and-shoot offense. In just two seasons he passed for 83 touchdowns and 9,842 yards. He was the USFL MVP in 1984, but after the league folded he had no option but to go to Buffalo, who he had criticised for not wanting to bring in the right players to win a Championship. Jim Kelly was a huge success for the Bills, leading them to 6 division titles from 1988-95 and 8 playoffs spots in 11 years. The pinnacle of course was reaching 4 successive Super Bowls, each was played against an NFC East opponent and the closest Kelly got to picking up a Ring was in the first of those games. Super Bowl XXV was one of the closest of that era and went down to the final seconds when Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed “wide right” against the New York Giants.
When the curtain fell on Kelly’s career he had achieved several notable team records, including 35.467 total passing yards, and 237 touchdowns. He was a 5 –time Pro Bowler and is the last Bills QB to win a playoff game. Jim Kelly was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002, his presenter at the ceremony was his long standing Buffalo Head Coach Marv Levy.
It can be difficult to pick a “best ever” for a team that hasn’t been in existence for that long, of for that matter not had a great deal of success. The choice was made a little easier in the fact that Mark Brunell was not only their first ever QB but also their longest serving starter at the position. Drafted in 1993 by the Green Bay Packers out of the University of Washington, Brunell was just a benchwarmer and only had 27 pass attempts in his two years at the Packers. The expansion team Jaguars came calling and traded a 3rd and 5th round 1995 pick for his services. A decent 1995 saw Brunell throw 15 TD’s with just 7 interceptions. Through 1996-98 he threw 57 touchdowns and 36 picks in what was the team’s best period of success. Brunell led the team to the playoffs 3 times in their first 4 seasons, a record for an expansion team. In 1996 he led the team as far as the AFC title game only to lose out to the Patriots. He returned there again in 1999, only to fall to the Tennessee Titans.
A 3-time Pro Bowl selection, he won the game’s MVP award in 1997. After being benched early in the 2003 season he left Jacksonville holding all their passing records and set the standard for the team at the QB position. In 2013 he was inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars, the team’s Hall of Fame equivalent.