Jim Kelly recently met with Jon Bon Jovi to discuss partnering up in pursuit of the Buffalo Bills, but the Hall of Fame quarterback declined to enlist over lingering concerns the team could move, The Buffalo News has learned.
A source close to Kelly and bond investor Jeffrey Gundlach told The News on Sunday night that Kelly met with Bon Jovi face to face in Buffalo last week, but they didn’t merge.
Gundlach, originally from East Amherst, has been working with Kelly’s group since last month.
“I can confirm that Jim Kelly met with Jon Bon Jovi, but Kelly and Jeffrey Gundlach will not be pursuing a relationship with the Toronto group,” the source said in an email on condition of anonymity.
“Kelly and Gundlach do not feel confident that their aspirations for keeping the Bills in Buffalo long-term are aligned with the interests of the Toronto group.”
The News reported Saturday conversations between the Kelly and Bon Jovi groups had taken place because both are trying to find their footing.
Kelly’s brother and business manager, Dan Kelly, didn’t return calls about the meeting with Bon Jovi.
Morgan Stanley, the bank overseeing the sale for Ralph Wilson’s trust, issued a “no comment” Sunday morning.
The Kellys and Gundlach met with the Bills’ trust Aug. 7. They asked to be matched with an established group because they’ve had trouble latching on with any of the big bidders.
Dan Kelly met with Bills bidder Donald Trump. Two sources involved in the sales process told The News the Kelly group has not met with perceived front-runners Terry and Kim Pegula.
The Bon Jovi group, meanwhile, has credibility issues.
Bon Jovi has generated intense disdain throughout Western New York because of his group’s Toronto ties and fears they would relocate the team.
Bon Jovi is working with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Chairman Larry Tanenbaum and members of the family that owns Rogers Communications.
Reaching out to Jim Kelly was seen as a public-relations Hail Mary to spawn public support. Kelly, among the greatest players in Bills history, led the team to four straight Super Bowls. He could have helped vouch for the Bon Jovi’s group’s claims they don’t want to move the Bills. But Kelly apparently couldn’t be convinced.
A source close to the Bon Jovi group told The News on Friday there was “major tension” within it.
Another source formerly involved in the sales process said the Bon Jovi group is “unfocused and disorganized.”