Chad Kelly after winning the Grey Cup in 2022. Nov 20, 2022; Regina, Saskatchewan, CAN; Toronto Argonauts quarterback Chad Kelly (12) celebrates the victory at the end of the game. The Toronto Argonauts defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to win the 2022 Grey Cup Championship at Mosaic Stadium. Toronto won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

One notable element of the lawsuit against Chad Kelly and the Toronto Argonauts has been the response from Kelly, his team, and the Canadian Football League as a whole. That wrongful termination lawsuit from a former Argonauts strength coach alleges that Kelly made improper advances on her throughout the 2022 and 2023 seasons and then harassed her when she turned him down. And that team executives (including assistant general manager John Murphy) failed to address her reported concerns and then opted not to renew her contract, and that they violated CFL policy by not reporting her claims to the league office.

The lawsuit was filed in Ontario Superior Court on Feb. 21. But the public response to it from all parties has been slower. The league told reporters who asked they were “aware of the legal claim” and “reviewing the matter” that night, but committed to no action then. They didn’t address this on their own channels until six days later when they announced an investigation. That bothered many, considering that numerous players have been outright released in a faster fashion, and that raised questions of whether Kelly was receiving special treatment as the league’s reigning Most Outstanding Player (and also its highest-paid player).

The team has also been very quiet. And as for Kelly, he made no comment at all for eight days before putting out a statement on Twitter/X Friday. But he later deleted that tweet. Here’s a screenshot of it:

It is understandable that it takes some time to craft a public response to a lawsuit, and that obviously should be done carefully. But eight days seems like an extremely long time there, especially with the eventual statement being two sentences. And Kelly’s later deletion of that tweet is curious.

Yes, that may be because having that tweet up provided an easy way for critics to tweet at him about this, and taking it down makes that at least a little harder. Or it may be out of concern that having that tweet up could cause eventual problems with the court proceedings here. But either of those angles should seemingly have been predictable, especially with the eight-day wait before putting out this statement. So it’s surprising that this was tweeted at all (rather than just sent to reporters) if it was going to be pulled.

The allegations here against Kelly and the Argonauts are significant. The former coach’s lawsuit claims Kelly “publicly accused [her] of engaging in romantic relations with another team member” last November, “reacted with aggression, screaming, cursing, and waving his hands at [her]” when she confronted him privately, “yelled derogatory words across the room at her and stated he couldn’t wait until she was fired” when she was with a group of staffers the next day, and “made a threatening remark, suggesting she was fortunate he hadn’t physically harmed her” outside her presence shortly afterward. It also claims that Murphy responded to the report of harassment “by stating that [she] should not have spoken to [Kelly] and that she has now ‘opened a can of worms that didn’t need to be opened'” and that the team then reduced her roles before eventually opting not to renew her contract (she had worked for them since 2018).

This is just the latest off-field controversy surrounding Kelly. In high school, he was removed from a Pennsylvania team over disciplinary issues, and in college, he was dismissed from Clemson over conduct detrimental to the team. He spent a year at East Mississippi Community College of Last Chance U (Seasons 1 and 2, which took place after Kelly’s time there) fame, then transferred to Ole Miss, but wound up facing charges of resisting arrest, third-degree assault and second-degree harassment over a fight outside a Buffalo nightclub.

Kelly was able to strike a plea deal and fulfill that with 50 hours of community service, and the Rebels kept his offer, and he’d go on to play pretty well there in 2015 and 2016. And he was drafted into the NFL by the Denver Broncos in 2017 with the final “Mr. Irrelevant” pick, 253rd overall (and with some theorizing that was more about his uncle being famed QB Jim Kelly than his accomplishments to date). However, following off-season wrist surgery, he missed the 2017 season, and he only played one regular-season snap for them, a kneeldown in October 2018. That came before the team released him following his arrest on suspicion of first-degree criminal trespassing for entering a couple’s home after Von Miller’s Halloween party. This charge eventually saw him plead guilty to misdemeanor and second-degree criminal trespassing, and he received a year of probation and 50 hours of community service.

Kelly signed with the Indianapolis Colts after that and was suspended by the NFL for two games for violating their personal conduct policy over the trespassing charge. He mostly stayed on their practice roster, but had one active roster selection; that didn’t see him get into a game, though. They cut him in 2020, and he then spent time at EMCC as an offensive coach, but returned to football ahead of the 2022 CFL season with the Argonauts. He’s played well there so far, serving as an important backup through their 2022 campaign (including in their eventual 109th Grey Cup win), taking the starting reins last year after McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s exit for the USFL, throwing for 4,123 yards with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and earning that league MOP award. But now, he’s back under fire for alleged off-field behavior.

Of course, these are civil allegations rather than criminal charges. And they have not been tested in court. And the league-commissioned investigation (by an independent firm, and which commissioner Randy Ambrosie said he authorized the night of the lawsuit filing, even if they didn’t make that public for a week) is only just beginning. So all parties involved will certainly have a chance to have their say.

But it is unusual that the first anyone heard from Kelly himself on this was in a tweet eight days after the lawsuit was filed, and that that tweet was soon deleted. We’ll see what more he has to say as the investigation and the lawsuit proceed.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.