Photos by Jeff Kolbe
eff Newman, of Newfane, New York, who works in corrections for the Niagara County Sheriff's Department, is a big fan of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. Correction – Newman is one of Kelly's biggest fans. With Kelly's induction to the NFL Hall of Fame last summer, fans can now make the pilgrimage to Canton to see his bronze bust. Or, if Ohio isn't in your travel plans, you can sit back with this copy of SMR and see Newman's own personal tribute to Kelly.
SMR: We here at SMR see a lot of great collections, but your amassment of Buffalo Bills and Jim Kelly memorabilia is nothing less than outstanding. How did this begin?
JN: It all started back in the early 1970s when my mother would hand out a weekly prize to whomever of her four children had kept his or her room the neatest. Whenever I was the winner, the prize was always something relating to the Buffalo Bills. The very first item I ever received was a Bills helmet pencil sharpener. Another very early item I got was a Buffalo Bills Avon cologne decanter.
SMR: Your collection of Bills memorabilia is so extensive we would like to do a future story on you, but for this issue we would like to deal with the items you have pertaining to your favorite player, Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. What is it about Kelly that has fascinated you?
JN: He was a complete player who really enjoyed the game. He would take a huge hit, get up, shake it off and come right back to throw a touchdown. They just don't make quarterbacks like that anymore.
SMR: You must have been very pleased and excited over his Hall of Fame induction this past summer.
JN: It was certainly well deserved. Jim earned the right to be there with the greats of the NFL. He was a true leader. I thought his speech was the best I ever heard from any inductee and I would have loved to have been there. I didn't get that chance, but I was very proud of how many Bills fans were on hand in Canton.
SMR: Aside from your Bills collection, how many items do you have that pertain specifically to Kelly?
JN: I couldn't even tell you, I have all of his cards, signed jerseys and helmets, game used stuff, signed photos, a talking doll, a cloth doll, all of his Starting Line Ups, cereal boxes, posters and so much more.
SMR: Your collection is so comprehensive. Do you have any items that are your favorites?
JN: I have a few favorites. I have an autographed football and a game worn, autographed jersey. I also have another game used jersey and a game used helmet that I won through a contest in a football magazine. The rules of the contest were that you had to have an extensive collection of which the only thing missing was a game worn helmet of your favorite player. I, of course, picked Kelly as my favorite player and set up my entire collection with one big empty hole in the middle where the helmet would go. I took a picture of my collection, entered the contest, and was the grand prizewinner. That helmet is truly the centerpiece of my collection.
SMR: Are there things that you still hope to add to your collection?
JN: The thing I would like most is not a tangible thing. What I would like most is to have the opportunity to meet Kelly. I would love to pick his brain on football and, of course, show him my collection. If I did have to pick an actual tangible item, I guess it would be a pair of game worn cleats. They sure would go great with my game used helmet and jersey!
SMR: Do you have any idea of the value of your collection?
JN: No idea. I don't care about the monetary value of the things I have. The money part of it means nothing to me. I collect because I enjoy it, and putting a value on it would diminish my pure joy of collecting.
SMR: How would you describe the joy you receive from your collection?
JN: This collection means the world to me. I personally enjoy it and I enjoy sharing it with people. Believe it or not, my son is a Raiders fan and I'm trying very hard to convert him so that when I leave this collection to him he'll enjoy it as much as I do.
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