ADVERTISEMENT

NEW YORK -- Bills greats Marv Levy, Jim Kelly and Bruce Smith were among the many celebrities who walked the red carpet this evening at Radio City Music Hall as part of the NFL's third annual awards show.

Kelly, the franchise's all-time leading quarterback, spoke with The News about the current starter at the position, EJ Manuel.

"It wasn't much of a rookie season," Kelly said, referring to the knee injuries that kept Manuel out of six games. "I wish I could say that he's everything that we were dreaming about, but we really didn't see a lot of him. I saw bits and pieces. I listened to how he talks to players, it's everything you want to have for your franchise-type quarterback, but really I want to see it through a full season. I have confidence he can do it, now we'll have to wait and see."

Kelly said he would text sporadically during the season with Manuel, but their communication was limited.

"A lot of times during the course of the year, you want to let the coaches do the coaching. You don't want to be one of those guys who sticks his nose in there all the time," he said. "During the season he has so many things on his mind, he doesn't need somebody else trying to tell him what to do. Maybe in due time, maybe this offseason some time, I might sit down with him and take him out to dinner or lunch and we'll put our heads together."

Smith, who is Manuel's God father, called his rookie season "very productive."

"I think that him having this experience, a few injuries, a few setbacks here and there, but very productive. I think it's going to be a building block," Smith said.

Kelly and Smith also weighed in on the Bills losing defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who took the head-coaching job with the Cleveland Browns.

"It's somewhat unfair to players to have coaches rotating in and out and never getting used to one system," Smith said. "That's very unfortunate. The only time you get an opportunity to master your position, is if you're in the system for a continuous amount of time."

Kelly said he was "bummed out" by Pettine's departure.

"But, like he said, there's only 32 NFL jobs, and as a coach, that's where you want to be when you get that opportunity," Kelly said. "My hat goes off to Doug Marrone for allowing him to go. You never want to see somebody go that is improving the team, that is just that close to being a playoff contender, but, hey, it's a dream come true for him and I wish him the best."

Kelly said he has another CT scan scheduled within the next month to make sure the cancer in his jaw has not returned.

"I'm getting there, slowly but surely," he said. "I'm not a very patient person, so I want things to feel good right away. It's taking a little bit too long for me."