The Buffalo Bills were never given a chance to match the multimillion-dollar offer that rookie quarterback Jim Kelly accepted from the United States Football League's Houston Gamblers, according to Pat McGroder, chief contract negotiator for the Bills.
McGroder, executive vice president of the team, said Kelly's agents phoned the Bills twice earlier this week while McGroder was ill and told L. Budd Thalman, vice president for public relations, and Norm Pollom, another club executive, about the Houston offer.
"At no time did they say to Budd Thalman or Norm Pollom, will the Buffalo Bills match that offer?" McGroder said at a news conference yesterday. "At no time were we asked to match the offer."
Kelly, who played for the University of Miami, was the Bills' second pick in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft. The Chicago Blitz picked him in the USFL draft, but traded their rights to Kelly to Houston in return for four draft picks in next year's draft.
The Gamblers, an expansion team that will start play next year, announced Thursday in Houston that they had signed Kelly for five years for $3.3 million, including a $1 million signing bonus . . .
Quarterback Todd Blackledge, who led Penn State to its first national football championship this past season, signed a series of four one-year contracts with the Kansas City Chiefs.