Having spotted Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly chucking T-shirts into the stands as part of a Buffalo Sabres promotion at the HSBC Arena this past winter, Trent Edwards could not help himself.
"I said something sarcastic like: 'Hey Jim, what happened to your arm strength? You couldn't even reach the second deck,' " Edwards recalled with a laugh during a phone interview from the Buffalo Bills training camp near Rochester.
At least Edwards can have a good-natured chuckle at the expense of Kelly, the quarterback whose shadow to this day continues to loom over any man in a Bills jersey who lines up behind centre.
The list of pivots who unsuccessfully have tried to fill Kelly's cleats since his retirement after the 1996 season reads like a who's who of quarterbacks. Todd Collins. Alex Van Pelt. Billy Joe Hobert. Doug Flutie. Rob Johnson. Travis Brown. Drew Bledsoe. J.P. Losman. Shane Matthews. On and on it goes.
Now the spotlight falls on Edwards, the second-year quarterback who took over for an injured Losman early last season and impressed the team brass enough to earn the starter's job in 2008.
Edwards knows the pressure is on to end the Bills nine-season playoff drought.
"I have so much respect for Jim Kelly," said Edwards, who hopes to play the entire first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers in exhibition action tomorrow night at the Rogers Centre.
"You want to be the best but you can't compare yourself to a former great like that. I just want to win like he did."
BIG BEN WILL START
Edwards said the team is looking forward to the game at the Rogers Centre.
"Maybe the Toronto Bills will have a home-field advantage," he said.
The Bills come to Toronto with a bruised and battered offensive line. With only three healthy tackles available right now, right guard Brad Butler was shifted over and may have to play the new position tomorrow.
As for the Steelers, coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that Ben Roethlisberger will get the start at quarterback followed by recently signed Byron Leftwich and rookie Dennis Dixon. Running back Willie Parker and the rest of the Steeler starters will all see more action than the one series they took part in during Pittsburgh's pre-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.