As a member of the East Brady (Pa.) bunch, Jim Kelly grew up with 893 neighbors, five brothers and a mother and father. That's 900 total (the whole town), and that's about how many people squeeze into East Brady's All-Star Tavern -- give or take a couple hundred -- every Sunday to see Kelly play quarterback for the Buffalo Bills via satellite.

Actually, Kelly's parents and the five brothers and their wives and girlfriends and their favorite neighbors and their favorite neighbors' neighbors are all cordially invited to fly up and see every Bills game in person. Jim Kelly has 25 season tickets, and his motto is: "Come one, come all."

Mom -- Alice Kelly -- is a frequent no-show, however, because she has emphysema and needs an oxygen tank nearby at all times. Kelly recently bought his folks a recreational vehicle equipped with enough oxygen for two dozen astronauts. Lots of times, when Alice isn't feeling so well, her husband, Joe, parks the RV in the stadium parking lot and they watch the game on television instead of going inside. Sometimes, Alice Kelly just stays home, and Joe goes all by himself. He's only missed seeing two games since Jim became a Bill, and often the brothers are right there by his side.

A couple of years back, Kelly made his father retire. He threatened, "Retire or else." He told him, "Dad, you can't come to my games if you're still employed." And who was Dad to argue? When he had one job -- not three -- Joe Kelly was a machinist, a shop steward. When he had three jobs -- which was often -- he was a machinist, a carpenter and a plumber.

As a family, they didn't eat cake, and certainly not meat. Alice's nightly specialty was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which Jimmy and the rest of the boys (Pat, Ray, Edward, Danny and Kevin) got accustomed to.

Says Joe now: "I still think Jimmy likes it best. The first thing he has is peanut butter and jelly. I went to the store for him, and he made me get it. He sure eats enough of it, two or three sandwiches a day. Uh, his favorite jelly is grape."

When the NFL went on strike and Jim wondered what to do, he asked his dad for advice. And Joe told him under no circumstances should he cross that picket line.

Joe Kelly went through two strikes in East Brady, one for a couple months and one for a couple weeks. If a replacement machinist had crossed that line, Joe would've raised hell. So, like father, like son. When Bills fullback Carl Byrum crossed the picket line, Jim said Byrum's teammates might forget to block for him after the strike.

Anyway, it obviously has become Jim Kelly's mission in life to not only defeat the Washington Redskins today but to defeat all the pain and poverty that Joe and Alice and the five brothers and the neighbors and the neighbors' neighbors went through in East Brady.

"We grew up probably having as hard a life as anybody," Jim Kelly said this week. "A lot of times we didn't have any food on the table. At Christmas, everybody else would always get something nice, but we'd get one T-shirt or one shirt . . .So I want to take care of Mom and Dad . . .and I'm having a damn good time doing it."

Jim Kelly is the highest-paid player in the NFL, so he can spare a dollar or two or three. He eats peanut butter and jelly and gives away BMWs.

It's gotten to the point that a lot of people wonder where it all ends. David Letterman, the late night TV host, had Kelly as a guest last year and brought it all out in the open.

Letterman: "Jimbo, how much do you make -- if it doesn't embarrass you to say so?"

Kelly: "No, it doesn't embarrass me. I've got a five-year contract for eight-point-five . . . "

Letterman: "Say the rest, Jimbo . . . "

Kelly: "Million dollars."

Letterman (later): "Didn't you just get into a fight with the Jets' Marty Lyons?"

Kelly: "Yeah, I was fined 800 bucks."

Letterman: "Ooooooh, Jimbo. You're gonna have to tighten the belt."

But The Wallet is hardly fastened. Dad always wanted a Lincoln, so that's what he got. Dad and Mom always wanted a Hawaiian vacation, so that's what they got. Brother Dan always wanted college tuition, so that's what he got.

Plus, there were other out-of-the-blue gifts. The Kelly home on Purdum Street (East Brady is about 70 miles outside of Pittsburgh) was given a facelift -- new windows, new aluminum siding. No one asked for it; Jim just did it. He also offered to move them to a new home (the one on Purdum Street is 90 years old), but Alice and Joe said no.

Joe, by the way, says his life style is pretty much the same as it used to be, but his daughter-in-law Tricia says: "They've come a long way, believe me."

Jim also has slipped Joe a credit card, saying, "Buy whatever you want, Dad, including the world if you want it."

Jim agrees he feels indebted to Joe more than anyone because Joe was raised in an orphanage by nuns and used to swear nightly to his wife that his family would stick together through thick and thin.

When the boys fought -- most times, they started when Jim or Pat would steal food from Danny or Ray's dinner plates -- Joe would tell them to get their boxing gloves and football helmets and proceed to the basement. Joe himself was a former boxer in the Navy who believed in letting go of your aggressions. And there were a lot on Purdum Street.

So the boys -- wearing helmets for protection -- would smash each other and then kiss and make up.

"I remember we were at each other's throats," Jim said this week. " . . .Thank God {Joe} put boxing gloves and helmets on us, because if he didn't there might have been a lot of broken noses."

Jack Pardee, the former Redskins coach who had Kelly with the USFL's Houston Gamblers, says perhaps this is where Kelly achieved his "linebacker" mentality, back home in that cellar. If so, he found his quarterback mentality in the backyard.

Every school day, Joe would order little Jim to come home for lunch, except they would never eat lunch. Joe would take Jim out back and have him roll out and throw at Alice's clothesline. If you're wondering why Jim Kelly had so much fun with Mouse Davis' run-and- shoot offense in Houston, that's why.

Penn State's Joe Paterno eventually recruited him to be a linebacker, but Jim's brother, Pat, had been a linebacker with the Colts and Lions and had made little money. Pat convinced him that quarterbacks were wealthy and, since his dad needed help, it just made a lot of sense. The University of Miami -- back in the days when no one knew or cared whether it played football -- offered Jim a scholarship to play quarterback, and he had nothing to lose, but money.

Coach Howard Schnellenberger started him in the eighth game of his freshman redshirt season against Penn State. Miami romped. But Schnellenberger found it peculiar that Kelly -- hardly the nervous type -- had gone running to a toilet minutes before kickoff to throw up.

Little did he know that was a Jim Kelly tradition. In a midget game once, Jim threw up right there on the 50-yard line.

"It's a good luck charm," Joe says.

Four years later, Jim was drafted in the first round by Buffalo. He said at the time, "I cried when I was drafted by Buffalo . . .You can't be a great quarterback in snow and 30 mile-an-hour wind."

So he decided to play indoors.

He signed with the Houston Gamblers, who played at room temperature in the Astrodome. But he didn't know the roof was going to cave in on the USFL. Buffalo offered him the "eight-point-five," and the rest is history.

When he signed, Buffalo practically held a parade for him. And when he played his first game, the fans began parading also to once dormant Rich Stadium. Attendance went from 303,145 in 1985 to 531,813 in 1986. The Bills went up, too, from 2-14 to 4-12 and now to 3-3 (tied for first).

Kelly threw for a personal NFL-high 359 yards in beating the Dolphins, 34-31, last Sunday. That's nothing compared with the day he threw for 574 yards against the USFL's Los Angeles Express. Redskins receiver Ricky Sanders played with Kelly in Houston and said the other day: "Tell him not to kill us."

Most of the family is supposed to be at today's game, and they'll gather at a bar and restaurant called "Pierce Arrow," Jim's hangout, sort of. When he first arrived in Buffalo, Kelly said it was the type of town that could drive him to marriage, but he's managed to hold out.

"I'm 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," former Duke quarterback Ben Bennett once told Sports Illustrated.

But Kelly claims family comes first. He's very concerned about his mother, whose emphysema will get no better. She was a heavy smoker for 42 years and, when her children prodded her to quit, she always maintained that after raising six boys in a place like East Brady, she could smoke whenever she pleased.

She is now paying the price, but -- then again -- Jim is picking up the tab. His newest present to her was a pair of cowboy boots. Of course, he also bought boots for his dad, his five brothers and their wives and girlfriends and anyone else who wanted a pair.

No one's afraid to ask.