Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - The announcement by former Bills Quarterback Jim Kelly that he is battling cancer in his upper jaw, took a lot of his friends and former colleagues by surprise.
The announcement came at a golf tournament to raise money for Kelly's foundation.
Kelly told the crowd about his cancer, while surrounded by family, friends and former teammates.
"He's a resilient guy, and that's been our motto -- for forever, with what we did," says Andre Reed, a former Buffalo Bills player.
Reed and other former teammates believe that without a doubt, Kelly will beat cancer.
"He will fight through it, and that's the only way he knows to go," says Phil Hansen, a former teammate. "In football terms -- he'll be the guy at the bottom of the pile."
Both on and off the field, Kelly is known for being a fighter.
"You don't get a reputation as the toughest guy ever to play quarterback for no reason at all," says former Bills General Manager, Bill Polian. "So if anybody can overcome this, Jim can."
Analysts are also talking about why Kelly chose to make his battle with cancer so public. "He wants it out there for support, and so we're only moving forward and no speculation," says Chris Berman, and ESPN analyst.
Fans and friends also fell in love with Kelly because of his kindness, and for what he has done for the community for so many years.
"We're there for him, with whatever he needs," Hansen says. "This will just be payback for all the great years and great friendships he has had with the rest of us players."
The Hall-of-Famer still lives in Western New York, and runs a foundation to help disadvantaged and disabled children.
Because of his compassion, former teammates say Kelly's support system will get him through this battle.
"So now, it's time for us to help him in anyway we can -- be his teammate, which is what I think all the guys are trying to do," says Steve Tasker, a former Bills player.
"I think good deeds are rewarded," Polian added. "I believe in that and I hope that's the case, and we'll be praying and hoping that it is the case."