“He’s a Hall Of Fame QB, person and cancer survivor”

Chris Berman salutes Jim Kelly, the 2018 Jimmy V Award for Perseverance honoree

EDITOR’S NOTE: Former Buffalo Bills quarterback and Hall of Famer Jim Kelly will be honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at The 2018 ESPYS (Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN). Kelly, who led the Bills to four straight Super Bowl appearances, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his jaw in 2013. Over the past five years since his diagnosis, he has embodied the definition of perseverance with his spirit and fearless attitude. ESPN’s Chris Berman, who will present the Top 10 Plays Of The Year on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter on Wednesday before the ESPYS, salutes his friend and former ESPN colleague in this post for Front Row.

I’ve been part of the ESPYS since the very beginning, back in 1993. It’s something ESPN invented, and the stories and the people we highlight make me proud to be a small part of it.

This year, during our pre-show coverage, I’m going to interview two Hall of Fame quarterbacks from the same draft class: John Elway and Dan Marino. We’ll talk about our dear friend Jim Kelly – another Hall of Fame quarterback who was drafted in 1983. As you probably know, Jim will be honored at the ESPYS with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.

In my opinion, the phrase “Kelly Tough” is an understatement. Even doctors have said, “We’ve never met a patient this tough.” The stuff you think of as a slogan is real life. Jim has faced this three times, beating cancer head on. He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback, a Hall of Fame person and a Hall of Fame cancer survivor.

So during the ESPYS we’ll celebrate Jim, and we’ll celebrate other athletes who have inspired us. After going back into the vault, I can assure you there is no shortage of memorable sports moments this past year. I did my best to come up with the Top 10 Plays for SportsCenter.

My colleagues and I approached this like NFL PrimeTime; we wedged more than 50 highlights into a rollicking, fast-moving package. If you want to refresh your memory on what happened the last year in sports, join us at 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday – this ought to do it.


P.S. While it’s taken a true team effort to make the ESPYS what they are, I’d like to give [ESPYS executive producer] Maura Mandt special credit for her role in turning out a thoughtful, uplifting program that brings people together.

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