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'Don't be an a-hole' and other critical tips for NFL rookies

By Tim Graham

AURORA, Ohio -- Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard stood in front of this year's AFC rookie class and delivered some cold truths.

"Nobody cares about your problems," Ballard said Sunday night at the start of the 2013 NFL Rookie Symposium. "They might have empathy for them. But at the end of the day, nobody cares about your problems. When you bring it to work, nobody cares.

"We have people that do care when something's happening off the field, absolutely. But when we're watching the tape, nobody cares about what's going on at home. I promise you the fans don't care. The media don't care. And ownership doesn't care. They care about results."

Welcome to the NFL, kids.

Continue reading "'Don't be an a-hole' and other critical tips for NFL rookies" »

Jim Kelly won't need radiation or chemotherapy after jaw surgery

By Jay Skurski

As of today, Jim Kelly is cancer free.

The Buffalo Bills' Hall of Fame quarterback made that uplifting announcement this morning as his 26th annual football camp got underway inside the team's fieldhouse.

Kelly learned last week that he will not have to go through radiation treatment or chemotherapy following surgery on June 7 to remove cancer in his upper jaw bone.

"Which to me, is a blessing because what I’ve been told about all the stuff that they did in surgery, that if I had to do radiation or chemo, it would put me way back," said the 53-year-old Kelly, whose speech was perhaps a little slower than usual, but otherwise clear and strong in making his first public appearance since the surgery.

Kelly said he was experiencing some expected soreness in his jaw, but otherwise his recovery is right on track.

"Big-time relief," he said. "Trust me, prayers definitely had a big part in it, there’s no doubt. Not just with my family, but all across the country. And I’ve received so many letters and emails from people that have had similar circumstances as I did, and some of them were not very good, and some of them were very good.

"So you’re encouraged on one hand, and then discouraged on the other, but to find out where they’ve been, and the prognosis of where I’m going, I’m very excited. I’m happy. Never thought I’d be saying the word cancer … but it’s part of what has happened to me in the ups and downs of life."

Continue reading "Jim Kelly won't need radiation or chemotherapy after jaw surgery" »

Jim Kelly has great news in first appearance since cancer surgery

By Tim Graham

It was good for people to see Jim Kelly.

It was even better to hear what he had to say.

For his annual football camp at One Bills Drive this morning, Kelly made his first public appearance since the June 7 surgery that removed part of his upper jaw in hopes of extracting cancer.

Kelly, 53, announced he's considered cancer-free for now and will not require the follow-up chemotherapy that's common for his type of cancer.

NFL Network analysts prefer Kevin Kolb, pumped about Bills' defense

By Tim Graham

The NFL Network's "32 in 32" series recently reached the Buffalo Bills and broke down the biggest plotlines on either side of the ball.

Analysts Darren Sharper and Daniel Jeremiah agreed on both counts: Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel could be a liability in 2013, but Buffalo's defense should be significantly improved under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Sharper, a five-time Pro Bowl safety for the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints, proclaimed the Bills would be better off with Kevin Kolb running the offense.

"It's a difficult challenge because he's playing with young guys around him," Sharper said of Manuel. "That's why you want to put Kevin Kolb out there to provide a little bit of that veteran leadership to kind of guide these young receivers.

Continue reading "NFL Network analysts prefer Kevin Kolb, pumped about Bills' defense" »

Wine, women and thieves: NFL rookies better keep their eyes open

By Tim Graham

AURORA, Ohio -- Derek Wolfe was a rookie last year for the Denver Broncos and learned quickly he couldn't trust anybody like he used to.

Wolfe would break up with his girlfriend of five years and fire two financial planners.

He couldn't even rely on a close friend he'd admired since high school.

Wolfe was suspicious of his buddy and left $20 lying on a table to see what would happen. The friend, who Wolfe eventually discovered had a drug problem, pocketed the $20.

Continue reading "Wine, women and thieves: NFL rookies better keep their eyes open" »

C.J. Spiller, Jairus Byrd won't crack NFL Network's 'Top 100' list

By Tim Graham

C.J. Spiller's going to need a bigger fire pit.

The Buffalo Bills running back told me last month he hoped to appear on the NFL Network's annual top 100 players list, but if that didn't happen, then it would "add another woodblock" for his internal fire.

Only the top 10 remain, and neither Spiller nor safety Jairus Byrd have been revealed. They won't be among a remaining group that should include Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson, J.J. Watt, Von Miller and Patrick Willis.

Continue reading "C.J. Spiller, Jairus Byrd won't crack NFL Network's 'Top 100' list" »

Buffalo Bills' 2013 schedule provides plenty of blessings, too

By Tim Graham

Warren Sharp of wrote a critical blog item Wednesday after the Buffalo Bills complained about their schedule being unfair.

The Bills' temerity apparently kept Sharp awake last night because he rolled out of the rack with more research that shows the Bills can be considered among the NFL's luckiest teams in how their schedule was arranged.

Sharp looked at all 32 schedules and found the Bills:

  • Are one of only four teams that have four of their first six games at home.
  • Play three games in Florida, but none in the late-summer heat.
  • Get to wait until the finale to play their only road game against a team that had a winning record last year.

On that last bullet point, the Bills are the only team in the league that won't play a team with a winning record until then.

Sharp notes the New England Patriots might not be playing for anything by Week 17. Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn't one to rest his starters, but he will pull them early.

The Bills visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14 and the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15. Sharp writes the Buccaneers are 1-12 over their past 13 December games, and the Jaguars "have one of the worst home field advantages in the entire NFL."

"I'd say the Bills shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth," Sharp writes. "They were treated very kindly in many situations by the NFL scheduling department."

ESPN analysts take dim view on impact of Bills overhaul

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills have made a significant commitment to their future by turning over almost all of their important roles to younger, fresher folks.

The Bills want you to believe better days are ahead.

A group of ESPN analysts, including former Bills GM Bill Polian, doesn't have much faith.

ESPN Insider has put together its Future Power Rankings, a poll that takes into consideration how a team projects for years to come.

Continue reading "ESPN analysts take dim view on impact of Bills overhaul" »

Couple of surprises on PFT's Buffalo Bills Mount Rushmore

By Tim Graham has unveiled its Buffalo Bills Mount Rushmore.

And I think there are a couple upsets.

Neither Marv Levy nor Bruce Smith is honored.

Jim Kelly? Check.

O.J. Simpson? Check.

Continue reading "Couple of surprises on PFT's Buffalo Bills Mount Rushmore" »

Go ahead and tell Ted Nolan your theories on why the R-word is OK

By Tim Graham

If you happen to see former Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan out and about, don't extend your hand and greet him with the word Washington's NFL team insists is a term of honor.

You might end up with your shirt yanked over your head, hockey-fight style.

"I'd be very offended," Nolan said today by phone from his home in Garden River First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

"There are certain things you can't call black people or Chinese people or Jewish people. We as Native Americans, or First Nation people as we're called in Canada, we find it offensive, too."

Continue reading "Go ahead and tell Ted Nolan your theories on why the R-word is OK" »

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |