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Kelly celebrates his 20th year of teaching

As Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly tosses an incomplete pass downfield, he yells to his receiver, "Remember, keep running; don't stop running."

It might seem like pretty basic advice from quarterback to receiver, except that his receiver happens to be 10 years old and a member of Kelly's 2007 Football Camp taking place this week at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

This is the 20th year of camp for Kelly. Over those years he's watched such notable players as St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, Washington Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs and former NFL free safety Anthony Dorsett pass through as students. This year Kelly can add another NFL name to that list in Orchard Park native Jon Corto, who recently signed a rookie free agent contract with the Bills.

This year's instructors include Corto and former and current Bills Steve Tasker, Mark Kelso, J.P. Losman, Josh Reed and Brad Cieslak.

"This is exciting for me because it's 20 years," Kelly said. "When you do this camp for 20 years, you see the guys that we've been able to produce and send through my football camp."

"I'm excited to help out in this camp, I learned a lot here," Corto said. "When I was in the stands listening to chalk talk, I learned to have a dream and I had a dream standing in the stands and I just followed it and kept working hard."

The four-day, non-contact camp, repeated July 16-19, is for boys and girls ages 9-18.

One of the biggest factors in making Kelly's camp so successful has been the quarterback's hands-on approach that makes a lasting impression on participants who come from across the country for the opportunity to learn from one of the game's greatest. Mike Chase, a sixth grader from Sidney, said the five-hour drive is worth the experience. Chase is attending his third Kelly camp.

During his "chalk talk" with the 15-18 group Kelly stressed staying committed and being proud of who you are and where you come from. "My dad always told me, 'If you ever make it big into football, write your autograph so kids can read it, be proud of who you are, be proud of your name,' " Kelly said.

"It's easy to do things when you're told to do them. What separates the good ones from the great ones are the guys who are willing to do the work without being told."

Kelly also said he admired Bills' owner Ralph Wilson Jr.'s determination in keeping the team in Buffalo and hopes that Wilson will get his due from the NFL soon.

"I think every person in this city should thank Mr. Wilson for his dedication to keeping the team here," Kelly said. "Mr. Wilson should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It irritates me that a guy like that has done so much, not only for Buffalo and keeping this team here but he's done so much for the NFL and he's a gentleman that belongs in the Hall of Fame."

e-mail: acomak@buffnews.com

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