Josh Allen Has Earned the Only Endorsement That Matters in Buffalo

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Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills warms up before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 28, 2020.

Forget the mayor and the bishop. If you’re Josh Allen, the quarterback of the Buffalo Bills coming off a trip to the AFC Championship Game, there’s only one guy you need to hear say that you know how to play the game.

Allen earned that endorsement this week as he continues preparing for the encore to his best NFL season yet.

Jim Kelly endorses Josh Allen

Josh Allen's third NFL season was his best, likely setting the stage for a lucrative contract extension before the start of training camp. | Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Josh Allen’s third NFL season was his best, likely setting the stage for a lucrative contract extension before the start of training camp. | Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

For a franchise that’s been around since 1960, the Bills don’t have an extraordinarily robust all-time depth chart at quarterback. Jack Kemp and Joe Ferguson certainly had their moments; they also had more interceptions than touchdown passes. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Drew Bledsoe, and Doug Flutie didn’t quite have the combination of longevity and productivity.

No, the only Buffalo QB who truly matters is Jim Kelly, who shunned the Bills in favor of the USFL, finally arrived in town in 1986, and led the franchise to four straight Super Bowl appearances.

Kelly is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He says Allen is most definitely a worthy successor who can lead the Bills to the top.

Kelly passed Allen the torch by passing the football

Yes, it’s more than a little corny, but Kelly made a show on social media of anointing Allen as the potential heir to the title of best Buffalo QB ever. The pair autographed a football with the words “Passing the Torch,” and Jill Kelly photographed her husband handing the ball to Allen.

Kelly stayed in the Buffalo area after retiring following the 1996 season. He has remained close with the organization and consequently has forged friendships with a quarter-century’s worth of quarterbacks. In this particular instance, Allen joined him at the Kellys’ Hunter’s Haven Lodge in rural Ellicottville, south of Buffalo, ESPN reported. The lodge’s name honors the couple’s late son, who died at age 8 in 2005 of complications from Krabbe Leukodystrophy.

Jim, the Bills’ leader in career passing yards and touchdowns by a comfortable margin over Ferguson, told his wife last season that Allen “is going to break every record I have,” a remark Jill posted on social media.

Allen and the Bills appear to be on their way

The Bills made Allen the seventh overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft after his college career at Wyoming. His rookie season showed promise, but he regressed in 2019. Last fall is when it all came together. He set the team records for completions (396), yardage (4,544), and passing touchdowns (37) in a season while leading the Bills to the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

He has appreciated Kelly’s mentorship along the way. They talk about more than the sport.

“It goes beyond football when we’re talking, but he’s been great with my development here. Not just as a player but as a person, as well,” Allen told ESPN. “I couldn’t have asked to be in a better situation.”

Allen sees firsthand what Kelly means to Bills fans. He may not have delivered a championship, but the four straight trips to the Super Bowl were an impressive feat.

“That’s eventually (the goal of) my career, to be regarded in the city of Buffalo like a Jim Kelly,” Allen said in a 2018 interview. “Every quarterback who plays here wants to be in the same sentence as him, just because of what he is and what he (means) to the city.”

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