In spite of being a western Pennsylvania hotshot, Kelly didn't particularly care about going to Pitt. Penn State, however, would have been the perfect choice, but the Lions wanted him as a linebacker. Joe Paterno is sick of hearing about it. J.T. White, the now retired State assistant coach who bird-dogged Kelly, says wanly, "He would've been a good linebacker, too." And Dwight Gooden could probably play first base. In his first college start Kelly visited University Park and said hello to the heavily favored Lions by whipping them 26-10.
"Jim has never been afraid to take chances," says Henry. "Going far away to Miami, to a losing program that was a risk. And he got them going."
"For a new league Kelly is the kind of guy you want," says Argovitz. "He's like Namath—working class, talented, antiestablishment."
Argovitz brings up the Namath portrait in Kelly's home. " LeRoy, one of these days you're going to come to us asking to do Jim Kelly," Argovitz once said.
"I knew I wouldn't get the recognition in the USFL that I would in the NFL, but I joined to make some money and have fun, and I've done both," says Kelly, who remains the Buffalo Bills' property in the NFL, after being a first-round draft pick in 1983.
All scrubbed and powdered, the boys arrive at Rick's Cabaret in Houston to see the girls. And the girls are everywhere, in bathing suits and negligees and outfits made of less fabric than goes into most neckties. A raucous, upscale strip joint with flying confetti and $75 bottles of champagne, Rick's is what happens when yuppies try to one-up the conventions attended by their dads.
Kelly, his two brothers and Moriarty and Bennett sit at a table by a palm tree. In a moment a young lady approaches one of the Kelly brothers and does a dance routine so close to him that his eyes can't focus. This is the renowned table dance, $25 a shot, and before long Kelly has purchased one of these adventures for everybody in the group.
Kelly himself needs no help with women. They just seem to melt in front of him.
"I am here from the
Guinness Book of World Records to verify that Jim Kelly has stolen more ladies' hearts than anyone in the history of civilization," says Bennett. "And I can't explain it. I mean, I'm not going to say he's ugly, but he's no Tom Selleck, either. And he can't sweet-talk like Don Juan. And the sickest thing is, a lot of girls who swoon don't even know he's a great quarterback and incredibly rich."
One former flame, Mary Ellen George of the Dallas Cowboys travel department, says that Kelly's allure springs from "his values and background." She says that women love men who love their families and don't change when things around them change. "He appeals because he's sensitive, believe it or not." So does she see him anymore? "I can't keep up with him," she sighs. "As you said, he's very popular with women."