Chad Kelly 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

The Canadian Football League has a scandal brewing around one of its most prominent players. That would be Toronto Argonauts quarterback Chad Kelly, who was named the league’s Most Outstanding Player for 2023 at the CFL Awards last fall. As per TSN senior correspondent Rick Westhead, a recently-dismissed Argonauts’ strength and conditioning coach is now suing both the team and Kelly, saying she was let go after rebutting advances from Kelly (and after reporting those to management):

Here’s more on that from Westhead’s piece:

The coach alleges in her lawsuit that throughout the 2022 and 2023 seasons, Kelly “repeatedly sought to initiate romantic connections… by asking [her] out on numerous occasions. Despite [her] polite refusals, Chad persisted in his advances, displaying a pattern of behaviour that raised concerns.”

She alleges that Kelly’s harassment escalated in November 2023.

“A member of the Argonauts informed [her] that on Nov. 5, 2023, while on the team bus, [Kelly] publicly accused [her] of engaging in romantic relations with another team member,” the lawsuit reads.

The coach says she then privately confronted Kelly on Nov. 6, 2023.

“Instead of addressing the concerns, Chad reacted with aggression, screaming, cursing, and waving his hands at [her],” the lawsuit says, adding that she asked Kelly not to contact her unless it was work-related.

An hour after their conversation, the coach ate breakfast with a group of at least eight others, including her supervisor, Usama Mujtaba, the lawsuit says, adding that when Kelly saw her, he yelled derogatory words across the room at her and stated he couldn’t wait until she was fired.

The coach wrote in her lawsuit that she then informed Mujtaba and Argos assistant general manager John Murphy about what had happened.

“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,’” the lawsuit says.

The full piece goes into extensive detail beyond that, including the complainant saying she was removed from leading a team yoga class because Kelly would be in attendance and saying she ” learned that Chad had made a threatening remark, suggesting she was fortunate he hadn’t physically harmed her.” It also notes that her contract was not renewed this January. And it includes this response from Argonauts’ parent organization Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (which also owns the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, MLS’ Toronto FC, and more):

“The club is aware of a legal claim made by a former employee against the team and Mr. Kelly,” Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment spokesman Dave Haggith wrote TSN in a statement. “The organization will not comment on private personnel matters or ongoing litigation but is steadfast in its commitment to providing a safe and inclusive work environment.”

As noted in there, none of these allegations have been proven in court. But this remains major CFL news, especially with it coming about the reigning MOP (the league’s highest honor), and an incredibly high-profile player.

Even before he took over the Argos’ starting role last season, Kelly had made a ton of headlines thanks to his family (he’s the nephew of Pro Football Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly), brief NFL experience (with the Denver Broncos from 2017-18 and the Indianapolis Colts from 2019-20), and college career at Clemson, East Mississippi, and Ole Miss. And he was one of the league’s highest-profile figures heading into the upcoming season. But while nothing has been proven here yet, this lawsuit certainly puts a bit of a cloud on Kelly’s image while it’s in the works.


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.