Former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly was one of the most prolific scorers in his sport, even though he never won a title.
So perhaps as well as anyone, he understands how soccer star Lionel Messi feels, and wants him to know things could be much worse.
Messi couldn’t lead Argentina to a Copa America title last week, with his missed penalty kick serving as his personal Scott Norwood moment. It was his fourth loss in a championship game for his country, along with Copa America finals in 2007 and 2015 and the 2014 World Cup.
Kelly lost four Super Bowls with the Bills, so the agony of coming so close is something he knows.
“The bottom line is, you go out there, you play your heart out,” Kelly said he’d tell Messi, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. “You know you’re one person on the team of a lot. Yeah, when you’re the star, there’s the old cliche, ‘You get too much of the praise when you win, too much of the blame when you lose.’ The thing is, for me, I knew that I had teammates. We all played together. We won as a team; we lost as a team.
“For me, I don’t cry about it. Yeah, of course, I would love to have won one, two [Super Bowls]. I would have loved to win them all. It just wasn’t in the good Lord’s plans. I tried, I busted my butt. It just didn’t happen. Go out and enjoy yourself.”
Messi hinted at retiring from international competition after Sunday’s loss, something Kelly didn’t do while he was playing.
And perhaps his own battle with cancer has given Kelly a different perspective, but he’s also far enough removed from his Hall of Fame career to understand that no matter how brilliant the player, one can’t win a championship alone.