New Orleans Jim Kelly had one word and one wish when told Saturday he had been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first try.
"Wow," the quarterback who took the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowls said. "This is extra special for me because my son Hunter will be 5 years old on Valentine's Day. I said I would love to have my son with me when this day does happen, and I will keep my fingers crossed and pray when it comes to Hall of Fame day that he will still be with me."
Hunter Kelly has the rare and deadly Krabbe's disease. Doctors had told Kelly his son wouldn't live past 14 months with the disease, which attacks the white matter of the brain.
"I've learned a lot through my son," said Kelly, who is a motivational speaker and runs Hunter's Hope, a foundation dedicated to heightening awareness about the disease and raising money to find a cure. "It's my lifelong commitment."
Kelly, the first USFL player to make the Hall of Fame, will be inducted on Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio, along with John Stallworth, Dave Casper, Dan Hampton and the late George Allen. Kelly also is the first of the vaunted class of '83 quarterbacks selected.
"When we came out in '83, you never thought about the Hall of Fame," he said. "The first thing was making an impact in the NFL. With John (Elway) and Dan (Marino) and the guys in that class, I'm honored to be first."
Two finalists who did not make the Hall of Fame were Bill Parcells and Bob Kuechenberg.
While Kelly lost all four of his Super Bowl appearances, Stallworth was 4-0 with the Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 1970s more known for defense. But he is the fifth offensive player from those great teams to make the Hall, and he joins receiving partner Lynn Swann, who was elected last year.
"I am trying to calm my wife down," he said, "she is running around the house screaming."
Stallworth presented Swann at the Canton festivities and got a feel for the Hall of Fame atmosphere.
"I was a little more nervous this year, having been there and seeing what it is all about," said Stallworth, who owns a Huntsville, Ala., company that supplies information technology services to the Air Force.
Stallworth scored the winning touchdown, a 73-yard reception, in the 1980 Super Bowl. He holds Super Bowl records for career average per catch (24.4 yards) and single game average (40.33 in 1980).
Casper, nicknamed "The Ghost," was one of the game's most versatile tight ends for a decade (1974-84). He was a four-time All-Pro who played in five Pro Bowls. He perhaps is best known for scoring on the 1978 "Holy Roller" play for the Oakland Raiders that led to a rules change regarding advancing fumbles.
"I never knew if I would make it," said Casper, who celebrated his 50th birthday Saturday. "I was on a good team. A lot of it was I was in a good place and I didn't screw up and good things happened."
Hampton was in the midst of very good things with the Chicago Bears, where he was a force on one of the most fearsome defenses in NFL history. The fourth overall pick in the 1979 draft, he played end and tackle and fought off injuries throughout his career to rank among the most dangerous pass rushers and run stoppers in the league.
Hampton was arrested Monday night in Arkansas on a drunken-driving charge. His arraignment has been set for Feb. 20.
"Yes, I did think this would hurt my chances," he said Saturday from Little Rock after learning of his election. "I've made some bad decisions in my life, and I made one this last week. Nobody's perfect."
Allen coached the Los Angeles Rams from 1966-70 and the Washington Redskins from 1971-77 and had a regular-season record of 116-47-5. He never had a losing season in 12 years as and NFL head coach. He died at 72 on New Year's Eve 1990.
"To my dad, the name George Halas meant everything," said his son, Bruce, now an executive with the Raiders. "To be with coaches now like Paul Brown, Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Marv Levy and my boss, who also was a coach ... his love for the game was very special."