By Alan Pergament
A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted "I wish Ch.4 and other stations would respect Jim Kelly's privacy."
My heart was in the right place, but I couldn't have been more wrong.
Since that March 19 tweet, it is clear that Kelly and his immediate family want all the attention the Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer can get.
The attention is comforting to the Kellys as the Bills legendary quarterback battles cancer. And that is especlally true if it includes prayers from people all around the country.
The Kellys first drew attention by posting photographs -- often very sad -- of Jim from his hospital bed as he was visited by family members and former teammate Thurman Thomas.
And Kelly's battle received national attention Monday from a poignant piece on "CBS This Morning" by Kenmore native Jeff Glor that clearly moved anchors Gayle King, Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose.
Glor, who grew up watching Kelly's Bills as such a huge Bills fan that he said he was often banished to the family basement to watch alone because he took the games so seriously, did a remarkable job staying in the background and letting Kelly's wife Jill, daughter Erin, brother Dan and Thurman Thomas tell the story.
In a telephone interview with Glor Monday night, I explained my initial tweet and how wrong it turned out to be. The Kellys feel more attention, more publicity and more prayers are helpful.
"I think the Kellys have a message to share that they are not afraid to share," said Glor. "I think no matter what difficult situation you are dealing with, every family and every person handles it or wants to handle it in a different way. This is the way the Kellys want to handle this. Some people are very comfortable talking about these issues, some people are not. We try to respect their wishes either way."
He conceded to Channel 4's Ed Drantch in an interview that aired Monday that the interview in a New York City hospital was "challenging" to him.
Glor told me part of the challenge beyond doing a story about an ailing childhood hero was reacting to the emotions of the people he interviewed.
"Whether it is this story or another one, if someone is breaking down in front of you, you're not a human being if you're not feeling something yourself," said Glor.
The tears in Thomas' eyes were especially powerful and somewhat surprising to Glor.
"This is Kelly Tough, right," said Glor. "This all about toughness. These guys played football and to see them in vulnerable moments like that is unusual."
Glor said he was first approached about doing the story by the morning show a few weeks earlier because the producers knew he was a Buffalo native and a Bills fan. His family got season tickets when Rich Stadium opened and still has them today.
"I wanted to make sure it was going to be handled in the most respectful way," said Glor. "I was confident they would. I was confident in the producer who was setting up some of the initial meetings. Once I met, Jill, Erin and Dan, I felt like we had a rapport pretty quickly. I think it helps to come from the same place. We had a very good conversation. I felt comfortable with them. The interviews weren't easy to do. They are going through an enormous amount of pain right now."
Glor did the interviews with the Kellys last Friday and was told by Jill on Sunday night that Jim felt well enough to give a personal message to all the people praying for him. It aired at the end of the powerful, emotional piece.
"The first thing Dan said to me was that Jim wants this message to get out," said Glor. "That he wants people to know how much it means that everyone is thinking about him and talking about him. And Jill said Jim wanted to express that personally."
All the interviews were moving. The Kellys certainly had to be talking proud about Erin, who illustrated remarkable pose and expressed her feelings beautifully.
"Erin is wise beyond her years," said Glor. "She is an extraordinary impressive young woman. There were multiple times during the interview when Erin spoke and her mother stopped and said 'wow, I cannot believe you just said that.' She was blown away by how composed Erin was."
From Glor's work, to the anchors reaction to all the interviews, "wow" was a perfect way to describe the piece.
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