BATAVIA – Rex Ryan’s motivation in giving his players the day off from OTA practice Monday to attend the Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Tournament as an entire Buffalo Bills team was twofold.
One, the Bills’ coach wanted them to have a bonding experience, just as he did when he took them on bowling excursion on May 21, the final day of the voluntary offseason conditioning program.
Two, he wanted to provide a strong show of support for one of the Bills’ legendary players and be part of Kelly’s efforts to raise money for his “Kelly for Kids Foundation.”
“To me, it’s not just lip service,” Ryan told reporters just before golfers teed off at Terry Hills Golf Course. “I want to do some things that bring the team together, and this is kind of an opportunity to get guys out and taking a break away from the X’s and O’s a little bit and bringing them around each other. It might be different from other teams, but we wanted to support Jim and we also wanted to do it to build our team a little bit.
“We’re proud of the tradition and proud of the fact that there are 80 former players that live in that area. And when you think of Buffalo,” people hear about “the weather and all that kind of stuff. You recognize it, but it’s also a great place to live. And our alum are very important to us. You get Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas and all those guys around here, it’s just a great opportunity to support a great cause.
“And the little part that we can do about it and bring our team out here, if it adds to it, then that’s great.”
Kelly called Ryan’s decision to bring the team to the tournament “amazing.”
“When Rex told me that that’s what they wanted to do, I’m like, ‘Really?’” Kelly said.
Then, he joked, “This is part of the OTAs. You see guys throwing footballs" at a target, "swinging” their clubs “and loosening up” and doing “stretching exercises, you get a little walking on the course. So it’s all good.”