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It runs in the family

Chad Kelly follows in the footsteps of famous uncle

News Sports Reporter
Chad Kelly already owns bragging rights over his uncle Jim for this if nothing else: He won the national Punt, Pass and Kick competition for his age group, something that eluded the Hall of Fame quarterback during his childhood.

Then again, Jim Kelly did guide the Buffalo Bills into four straight Super Bowls. So we'll call it even.

Unless Chad wins again this year.

Chad Kelly, the son of Jim Kelly's brother Kevin, is making his second straight visit to the NFL's Pepsi PP&K finals, which will be held Saturday in Pittsburgh before the Steelers' playoff game against the New York Jets. Western New York could be hearing the name "Kelly" for a few more years.

"Wouldn't that be beautiful?" his father said with a laugh. "I wouldn't mind that one bit."

Chad, of Grand Island, is among 32 finalists out of 3.5 million kids in four age groups. He is the only 10-year-old remaining in the 10- and 11-year-old division. Last year, he won the 8-9 division in Kansas City.

Jim Kelly reached the national semifinals in 1970. The following year, the East Brady, Pa., native won the local competition and had a chance to meet Terry Bradshaw. At the time, Kelly told Bradshaw, "I'm going to take your job away, Mr. Bradshaw." Bradshaw laughed and gave Kelly an autograph.

Here's what Jim Kelly remembers about his experience in 1970: "It was raining in San Diego. In the preliminaries, I went to kick the ball but my foot slipped, and I fell and I just grazed the ball. It went 1 inch. And that's what they gave me for the score. I wound up finishing second by 15 feet."

Here's what Chad Kelly remembers about his experience last year, in which he was introduced on national television and received a day of proclamation from the state: "We got to stay in a hotel. We got to go on the plane for free. We got to go there for three nights. Also, we got to ride the escalators, and that was really fun. And they put on a passing expedition (sic) during halftime."

Nothing beats the innocence of youth.

Chad Kelly wasn't born when Jim Kelly was leading the Bills through their glory days and was just a toddler when the quarterback retired. But, apparently, they share a few of the same qualities that made his uncle a beloved sports figure. Chad is tough, very competitive and stubborn.

Chad excels in baseball, basketball, soccer and skiing, and is big for his age, so he often plays in higher age groups. He once gained 289 yards rushing on nine carries while playing for the Grand Island Junior Vikings. He also won five straight downhill ski titles in his age group at Kissing Bridge.

"He has a pretty good head," Kevin Kelly said. "When we grew up, it was only football, basketball and baseball. If it was up to him, he would be in lacrosse, wrestling, gymnastics. He wants to do everything."

Kevin Kelly estimated that Chad would likely need 100 feet from each of the three exercises to win the 10-11 age group. Chad has a strong arm, but apparently he's better with his foot and leg. Chad won the regional competition with a combined 289 feet before the Bills' game this year against the Jets.

Chad has been practicing for the past several weeks in the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse, where he played catch with rookie quarterback J.P. Losman and had about 45 minutes of instruction from Bills punter Brian Moorman.

"He's one of those guys," Moorman said, "that when he gets older, they're going to ask him what he did in high school. He's going to say, "I played quarterback, punter, kicker.' He's going to name off all these positions because he wants to be that good."