CFL suspends Chad Kelly at least 9 games for violating gender-based violence policy

TORONTO (AP) — The CFL suspended Toronto Argonauts quarterback Chad Kelly for at least nine regular-season games Tuesday following its investigation into a lawsuit filed by a former strength and conditioning coach against both the player and club. Kelly is also suspended for Toronto’s two preseason games for violating its gender-based violence policy, the league announced.

The 30-year-old Kelly is a Western New York native who won the Connolly Cup as the area’s top high school football player for St. Joe’s, and is the nephew of Hall of Fame Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. He was the CFL’s outstanding player last season after leading Toronto to a league-best and franchise record 16-2 record.

Kelly will be required to undergo confidential assessments by an independent expert and attend mandatory counselling sessions conducted by a gender-based violence expert. Both the counselling sessions and assessments must be satisfactorily completed before the CFL will consider Kelly’s reinstatement, the league added in a statement. Otherwise, the league reserves the right to modify his discipline.

WNY’s Chad Kelly lifts Toronto Argos to Canadian title

“Players are the ambassadors of our great game,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie stated in a news release. “They are expected to be leaders in the locker room and role models in the community. It was important that we performed our due diligence to properly review this matter from all points of view. That in-depth investigation found that Mr. Kelly unequivocally violated the CFL’s Gender-based Violence Policy.

“Mr. Kelly’s suspension is the direct result of his behavior. The addition of mandatory counselling focuses on his need for self-reflection and understanding of his actions. He must take full advantage of this opportunity for personal betterment in order to return to the CFL.”

There was no announcement regarding any penalties or sanctions against the Argos. The league added that the club’s conduct in this matter, as laid out by the investigators, will be reviewed with the Argos.

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Kelly signed with the Argonauts in February, 2022 after being acquired as a negotiation list player in a trade with the Edmonton Elks the previous October. He signed a three-year contract extension in 2023 after helping Toronto win the Grey Cup championship, becoming a starting quarterback for the first time since his senior season at Ole Miss in 2016.

Kelly, who began his college career at Clemson and also played for Eastern Mississippi Community College, had 6,800 yards passing, 841 yards rushing and 65 total touchdowns in 22 starts for the Rebels. At the end of his junior season, Kelly became the first Ole Miss player to be MVP of the Sugar Bowl since Archie Manning in 1970.

Drafted by the Denver Broncos with the final pick in 2017, Kelly was the No. 2 quarterback in 2018 behind Case Keenum, the current Buffalo Bills backup, and made his lone NFL appearance in the sixth game of the season with kneeldown before halftime. Kelly was released the next week by the Broncos, and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal trespassing, following his arrest after leaving a Halloween party hosted by current Bills defender Von Miller.

The following year, Kelly joined the Indianapolis Colts, coached by Frank Reich, his uncle’s former backup in Buffalo, and Kelly played in a preseason game in Orchard Park against the Bills before being signed to the Colts practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster that November, but did not appear in a game. He spent a month of the 2020 season on the Colts practice squad.

Digital sports reporter Jonah Bronstein contributed.

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