Ex-Ole Miss QB and Denver Broncos draft pick Chad Kelly suspended at least nine games by CFL

Kelly allegedly harassed a female strength and conditioning coach who sued him and the Toronto Argonauts in February

TORONTO. Toronto Argonauts QB Chad Kelly (12) sits on the bench on a bad start against the Montreal Alouettes.(R.J.Johnston/Toronto Star)          (R.J. Johnston Toronto Star/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Chad Kelly has been suspended for nine games by the CFL. (R.J. Johnston Toronto Star/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Former Denver Broncos draft pick and Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly has been suspended for at least nine games by the Canadian Football League.

The CFL said in a statement on Tuesday that Kelly had violated the league’s gender-based violence policy. His suspension comes after a former assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Toronto Argonauts filed a lawsuit earlier this year accusing Kelly of harassment and creating a toxic work environment.

Per the league’s statement, Kelly needs to complete “confidential assessments by an independent expert and attend mandatory counseling sessions conducted by a gender-based violence expert” before he’s able to return to the league.

"Players are the ambassadors of our great game,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. “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.”

Kelly, the nephew of former Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly, was the CFL MVP in 2023 and threw for 4,100 yards and 23 TDs.

The woman was employed by the Argonauts from 2018 through January of 2024. She filed the lawsuit in February accusing Kelly of harassment and the team of wrongful termination. According to her suit, Kelly attempted to make multiple romantic advances.

From the Winnipeg Free Press:

2) Among the allegations were Kelly, during the 2022 and 2023 seasons, “repeatedly sought to initiate romantic connections… by asking (her) out on numerous occasions.” The coach noted despite her polite refusals, Kelly remained persistent with his advances. Things then escalated in November 2023, with the coach claiming she was informed by another player, while riding the team bus, that “Kelly publicly accused (her) of engaging in romantic relations with another team member.” When the coach confronted Kelly privately about the claims, rather than addressing her concerns, “Chad reacted with aggression, screaming, cursing, and waving his hands at (her).” Shortly thereafter, the coach was eating breakfast with at least eight others, notably her supervisor in head athletic therapist, Usama Mujtaba. When Kelly saw her from across the room, she alleges he yelled derogatory words at her and added he couldn’t wait until she was fired.

3) After the breakfast incident, the coach informed Mujtaba and Argos assistant general manager John Murphy about what was going on with Kelly. “Murphy responded 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.” Expected to lead a yoga class later that day, the coach was told because Kelly might attend, someone else would take over. The coach then claims after she went to the weight room, she was told by Mujtaba to go home in the event Kelly showed up. Then, “On Nov. 10, 2023, (the coach) learned Chad had made a threatening remark, suggesting she was fortunate he hadn’t physically harmed her.” She was told her contract would not be renewed on Jan. 29.

She says her in lawsuit that both Kelly and the Argonauts have violated Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

Kelly, 30, finished his college career at Ole Miss after he started at Clemson. He spent one season with the Tigers before he was dismissed from the team in 2014. After spending a season at East Mississippi Community College, Kelly transferred to Ole Miss and was the team’s starting quarterback in 2015 and 2016 before suffering a season-ending knee injury in November of 2016.

Kelly was chosen with the final pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos and was released in 2018 after he was arrested on a criminal trespass charge following a party at Von Miller’s house. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge regarding the incident and briefly joined the Colts for the 2019 season.

The 2023 season was Kelly’s second with the Argonauts after he resumed his professional playing career.