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Sources: Jim Kelly, Jeff Gundlach meet with Bills trust, want to partner with bigger group

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Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly still is trying to find his way into the team's sale process.

But the Hall of Fame quarterback has sidled up to a business partner in hopes of gaining entry.

The Buffalo News has learned Kelly and bond investor Jeffrey Gundlach met with the Bills' trust Thursday in the Detroit area, where Ralph Wilson Enterprises is located.

Gundlach, an Amherst High grad, is CEO of DoubleLine Capital, a Los Angeles-based firm that oversees assets worth about $50 billion. Gundlach told the Wall Street Journal in 2011 it was his dream to buy the Bills and keep them in Western New York after Wilson's death.

Gundlach might not have enough cash to take the lead in buying an NFL club, but sources told The News that he and Kelly met with the Bills' trust in hopes of being matched as minority partners with a more formidable party.

The Toronto Sun on Thursday night reported "an unnamed 'L.A. guy' never showed up" to Kelly's meeting. At least that part of the story was false.

Kelly is a fan favorite for obvious reasons. The greatest player in franchise history has stressed for years he planned to organize a group to keep the Bills in Western New York.

Kelly has been trying to overcome cancer for the past year. He's expected to find out later this month if chemotherapy and radiation treatments were successful in neutralizing tumors in his head.

The Bills' trust began making presentations to prospective buyers Wednesday, when billionaire developer Donald Trump flew to Detroit.

It's probably no coincidence that one day later, a New York Post story, quoting an anonymous source, revealed some of the confidential financial information the Bills' trust presented. The story said the Bills made between $30 million and $40 million in profits last year.

An NFL source informed The News four more meetings have been scheduled for next week in Manhattan, with another one or two meetings possible the week after.

  • Jan Reimers

    I would like to see Kelly (sans Gundlach) join Pegula in some capacity, but don't know if those two egos would be compatible.

    • janb55

      One would hope that both Kelly and Pegula could put their egos aside and work together....let Pegula own the team and Kelly do some public relations-type work.....it would be a mistake for Pegula to cut Jim Kelly out of this organization

      • Dan R

        Pegula fanboy'ed up with the French connection and all the big Sabres alums. I don't think there's any question Kelly would be in his plans in some capacity. that is unless Kelly does something in this bidding process to piss him off.

        • Jeaniec

          I agree Dan. I also think Terry Pegula would approach Kelly, if not Andre Reed too.

    • Irishkwh

      the thing is, Pegula doesnt need a partner. Ask Jim Kelly how is partnership in that night club went.

    • warriornation

      We all know how Patty LaLa and Pegula worked out!!!

  • Guest

    '...the Bills made between $30 million and $40 million in profits last year'. Neglected to mention that the profits are the burden of the local taxpayers.

    • Joe

      How? You provide no support to your claims.

    • Guest

      Agreed! It's time to end the corporate welfare.

    • repomania

      and with no debt.

    • William Kyriakakos

      So how much did you pay?? If the Bills left and were not such a "burden" to you, I highly doubt it would be noticeable to you and the taxes you pay.

    • Irishkwh

      SO is welfare, HUD Housing, medicaid...... since I have to contribute to that, I have no problem giving to something I can get some enjoyment in return for! How much money do the Bills generate for the community, probably more then there tax breaks.

      • Guest

        When ALL the expenses are figured in, the multi-billionaire owners pull off a sort of legal pick pocketing scam on the taxpayers. It's not only in Buffalo.

      • Guest

        But those entities are NOT making a profit and pocketing the $$'s!!

    • Alan Baumgardner

      "nearly 96% of the County‘s entire property tax levy went to pay for Medicaid costs" That's the reality. Everything else - roads, salaries, whatever we spend maintaing the Ralph - is just a drop in the bucket.

      • Guest

        Not even close!!! Perhaps 96% of PROPERTY TAX income ($200,000,000+/-) goes to Medicare (although that even seems high but I'll give it to you). You have not taken into account the rest of the county's income. Sales tax brings in more than double what property taxes bring in. Then you have numerous fees (ie: bed tax, mortgage filing fees, etc) that bring in nearly as much as the sales tax. You're only looking at one source and not the whole income picture.

    • Phil Privitera

      The Bills payroll taxes to NYS alone are over $20 million per year. Add in sales taxes generated, hotel taxes generated, and general spending in the economy, plus many player live here, spend here, and pay property taxes here. And if the owner lives here, he will pay taxes on his profits here. The notion that this is somehow a net loss to the taxpayers is completely false.

  • Rich

    'Matched as minority partners'....hey that sounds great, my resources total $7.34, it's not much but maybe the folks in Detroit can find me a match. I like Kelly but sorry to say he is out of his league here. And while 'minority owner' might sound nice it carries no authority/power. There is an old saying - when elephants start dancing get off the dance floor - Kelly should get off the dance floor.

    • Jeaniec

      It wouldn't surprise me if Terry Pegula approahes Jim Kelly to come on board in some capacity if (and I hope) the Pegulas end up t he owners.

  • Rick C

    Sounds like Pegula has Kelly on the outside looking in as far as an any capacity owner. Oh well, as Rich says below "...get off the dance floor". Dude, you are waaaayyyy over your head here. Bon Jovi is as well, but at least he can afford to be at the dance.

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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.