Buffalo Dad: Being “Kelly Tough”


My Dad and I 1984/85

With the events of this past weekend I was inspired by some of the things I’ve heard Jim Kelly so candidly talk about. He has the saying “Kelly Tough” and we all know how physically tough he was playing football but “Kelly Tough” is not just physical, it’s mental, it’s emotional, it’s the metaphysical stone pillar of strength that holds everything together when it seems like it may come crashing down. “Kelly Tough” is being a Dad.

A little reflection like father like Son

A little reflection, like father like son.

As I hear Kelly say “I’m not afraid of dying, I just have too much more I want to live for. I want to walk my girls down the aisle, I want to see my grand-kids” and see the candid photos and social messages his wife Jill shares, making his battle our battle, I can’t help but feel those words and think of my own family. I’ve watched my Dad get older and have his share of issues as well. Watching someone that seemed invincible as a child go through life threatening events have a way of putting things in perspective. The more I watched all the interviews from this weekend I came to realize Kelly is kind of like a father figure to all of us who grew up watching him. He was the Quarterback, the Captain, the Field general and the guy you would go to hell and back with. He seemed as invincible as he was heroic. He’s the guy you put your trust and faith in because he’s proven he’s earned it time and again. I feel that these qualities are all the things a Dad must possess as well. I know I felt that way about my dad as a kid as I’m sure many kids felt the same. I mean, if they didn’t then there would be none of the “I bet my dad could beat up your dad” arguments!

You will not take me ALIVE!!

You will not take me ALIVE!!

Men by nature are the protectors, providers, hunters, the strong silent types. We are task oriented, something is broke, and we fix it, period. It’s pretty simple in our eyes. In a family, the Dad is the constant pillar of strength, needing to always be strong in times of despair. To be that rock, that piece of steel that supports everything above. To be “Kelly tough”. Dads vanquish Monsters under the bed, protect from thunder during a storm and against real dangers like home intruders. Dads never feel pain, never show weakness or get sick. Dads also have to be caring, compassionate, loving and nurturing. After-all a Dad’s love is a very different kind of love.

Always wearing his Blue Collar work uniform.

Always wearing his Blue Collar work uniform.

Speaking of being “Kelly Tough” and Dads, my Dad is a true Buffalo Dad! He is literally the meaning of Blue collar. He works long hours, 6 days a week and is a very good handyman; He can seriously fix anything! As a kid i remember trying to emulate what i saw but the stuff I would “fix” was in working order before and in not so working order after! I learned a lot from my dad. He instilled the value of hard work, a value I take pride in till this day. Sure there were many days and nights I’d rather be hanging out with friend rather than mowing the lawn, roofing the garage or changing brakes the car, but looking back i wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

My Dad, Logan and I 2010

My Dad, Logan and I 2010

Spending 1 on 1 time with my dad was pretty limited throughout the year but every year my dad, grandfather and I would go fishing up in Canada for a week, 14 hours away to some of the most remote woods you can imagine. I joined the 40 year tradition when i was 8 years old and looking back now, it was some of the best times and adventures I had with my Dad! I learned in those woods many of the qualities that make me the Dad I am today.

Growing up, “Kelly Tough” was a primary lesson I learned. My dad would always say pain is mind over matter, if you don’t mind it doesn’t matter. I took that to heart, never crying when i got hurt and never quitting. I always wanted to be strong and brave in front of my Dad, i wanted to be “Kelly Tough”.

Remember these two!  - Photo via espn1005.com

Remember these two! – Photo via espn1005.com

I remember the only time I saw my dad actually cry in pain was when he got a fish hook caught in his finger while we were in Canada, trying to remove a lure from a good sized fish. The fish jerked, slipped out of his hand and sunk the hook deep into his index finger as it fell to the bottom of the boat and began violently flopping around. Of course yanking on that hook in my dads finger the entire time! I instinctively jumped on the fish, holding it down with all my might (about a 24 in, 10 pound northern pike) while my grandfather freed the lure. As i was laying on the bottom of the boat wrestling the fish I heard my Dad say to my grandfather “Owe dad, it hurts”, as my Grandfather was telling him it was going to be all right and to hold still, just as my dad had told me countless times. I can’t put that moment into words, but i gained a new perspective on life as I watched for the first time my dad play the role of the son and my Grandfather the Dad. My grandfather eventually broke the hook from the lure using a pair of nail clippers. Even though I had strangled the fish for 7 minutes, it somehow lived when we finally freed it! After the chaos subsided, we all had a laugh on the way back down the river in the rain and as I mocked my dad by saying “Owe daddy it hurts, it hurts!” In a high pitched kid voice as men do of course! The warm and fuzzy moment didn’t last long as I witnessed the physical and mental side of “Kelly Tough” in my dad as he numbed his finger in the ice cold lake water, stretched out his leather tough skin on his finger over the hook and we pushed the barb of the hook through without making a sound. 2 hours later we made it back to camp where he used a pair of rusty wire cutters to remove the barb and slide out the hook. No one can ever question my Dads toughness then or now as he has battles Strokes, prostate cancer and Heart issues. But It’s stories like this and the resolve he shows that makes me proud to carry my last name. Jim Kelly said his dad used to tell him and his brothers, “When you leave this house remember you are representing the Kelly name, don’t do anything to tarnish it”. A good lesson to teach any kid because in the end, all we have are those who love us and our last name.

Being a Dad is like being a SuperHero!

Being a Dad is like being a Super Hero!

So Dad’s you always have to remember; be “Kelly tough”, Be a Buffalo Dad, because being a dad is basically like being a super hero. You will be your kids first super hero, the one who has super strength, can make them fly and keep them safe. Being a Dad is a tough job; no one else can do it and no one else should do it. It’s up to you to define your own “Kelly tough” and instill good morals and values in your kids so they become good productive members of society. To go on and be good moms and dads to their kids and so on. It’s going to take hard work, commitment, determination and discipline of your own. It’ll be defined by bumps, bruises, blood, sweat and tears. But mostly its FUN! Always be sure to have fun!

Tell me what you think? What are the traits you think a Dad should possess? What kind of “Kelly Tough” stories do you have about your dad? As always leave me a comment and follow me on twitter @buffalodad716 and remember You have more to pass to your kids than just your last name!

By: Jason Sinsabaugh



One Comment on “Buffalo Dad: Being “Kelly Tough””

  1. Johnf466 September 3, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

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