Tragedies in sports can come in many forms. From losing big games, career ending injuries, to even in some rare cases, losing your life. The world of sports is as geared to the heartbreaks almost as much as it is to the joys. Injury or death aside, however, I think the worst thing that can happen to any player is coming right on the brink of obtaining your goal and falling just short.
Basically, I mean getting to a championship game and not winning it.
The feeling of being a champion at the sport you play, to be at the top of the mountain, is one of the primary things most athletes play for and if you happen to be one of the elite at your field, then that dream is even more magnified. To get right within arms reach of reaching a dream like that, and not getting it, has to be an indescribable pain.
Now take that feeling, multiply it by four (in four consecutive seasons), and you begin to feel what it's like to be Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly.
Jim Kelly was part of one of the most prolific NFL draft classes in history in 1983 that featured Dan Marino and John Elway.
Like Marino and Elway, Kelly was a superstar in the league and was the point-man for one of the greatest NFL scoring offenses of all time. His Buffalo Bills employed a hurry-up shotgun formation, labeled the 'K-Gun', that defenses were incapable of stopping. His Buffalo teams were so dominant that from 1991 to 1994, they went to four consecutive Super Bowls.
Unfortunately for the Bills and Kelly, they went 0-4 in those games.
During the regular season, and even the majority of the playoffs, Kelly was an unstoppable beast, But it seemed that whenever the big game rolled around, Kelly and that offense would perform a disappearing act. In the four Super Bowl losses, Kelly completed 81 of 145 passes for 829 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 7 interceptions.
For his 11 year career, Kelly would pass for over 35,000 yards and 237 touchdowns. His number, #12, is the only number the Buffalo Bills have ever retired. On August 3rd, 2002, in his first year of eligibility, Kelly would be inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame.
All of those accomplishments, however great from a personal standpoint, does little to quell the sting to Bills fans and to his own legacy that losing four straight big games entails. And for all that, and all the good, Kelly will go down as being one of the greatest NEVER to win a championship.
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