Chad Patrick Kelly, born March 26, 1994, carries an impressive lineage as he sets his foot on the gridiron. Nephew to Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, Chad has constantly lived under the pressure of his family name. His father, Kevin Kelly, while not a professional athlete, managed a supermarket and was a consistent pillar of support for his son. However, Chad was always known more as ‘Jim Kelly’s nephew,’ even before he could prove himself as an individual player.
High school and College: A promising start
Born and raised in Western New York, Kelly showed immense promise in his early years. Competing in Punt, Pass, and Kick competitions as a youth, Kelly clinched the national championship four times. He attended St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, where his athleticism shone, with more than 2,000 passing yards and 24 touchdowns in his junior year alone.
Kelly committed to Clemson University, where he redshirted in his first year and was dismissed due to detrimental conduct in the next. Not one to give up, he transferred to East Mississippi Community College, leading them to a National Football Championship victory. His final college journey ended at Ole Miss, where he became the first quarterback to lead the team with victories over Alabama, Auburn, and LSU in the same season.
The NFL Journey: A rocky road
Kelly’s NFL journey began with being the final pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. Despite a promising start, off-field issues marked his NFL career. An incident of criminal trespassing saw him released from the Broncos. After a brief stint with the Indianapolis Colts, Kelly found himself stepping away from the game, working as an offensive coach at East Mississippi.
The CFL venture: A promising turn
Kelly’s professional playing career received a new lease of life in 2022 when he signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL). His debut CFL season saw him play as a backup quarterback before he was promoted to a starting role in the final game of the regular season.
Kelly’s crowning moment came during the 109th Grey Cup when he replaced injured McLeod Bethel-Thompson. In a thrilling come-from-behind victory against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Kelly demonstrated why he is a player to watch in the CFL.
Personal challenges: A troubled path
Despite his successes on the field, Kelly has faced several personal challenges off the field. A nightclub altercation in 2014 saw him arrested, and he was ordered to complete fifty hours of community service. These events put a damper on his football career, leading him to take a brief hiatus from the game.
However, his resilience and determination to succeed led him back to the football field. As he takes on the 2023 CFL season as the starting quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts, Kelly is committed to letting his game speak for itself.
At the end of the day, Chad Kelly is more than just ‘Jim Kelly’s nephew.’ He’s a man who’s had his fair share of highs and lows, who’s worked tirelessly for the love of the game. And while the road has not always been smooth, Kelly’s journey in the football world continues to inspire many, making him a player to watch in the CFL.
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