Toronto Argonauts’ quarterback Chad Kelly didn’t shake hands with the Montreal Alouettes at the end of the East Final this past weekend, but it wasn’t because of bad sportsmanship.
“Personally, I did not feel good. My head and everything was not in the right place of mind to say anything to anybody,” said Kelly. “I needed to get in the locker room. My head was not good.”
“I think there were a few times definitely that I was not in the right mind at all calling a play, even out on the field,” he said. “It was definitely rough the day after and I’d say probably two days after, really. I mean, it’s something that you don’t want to go through. I’ve had one (concussion) before and it wasn’t to the extent of this one, but it’s definitely something that you gotta get help.”
There was speculation that Kelly left the field immediately after the game out of frustration. Instead, he indicated he went to the washroom after entering the locker room where he had what he described as an out-of-body experience, calling it “scary.”
Kelly was not pulled from the game by the league’s concussion spotter, nor was he able to pinpoint exactly when the concussion occurred, though he suspects it may have happened as early as the first quarter.
The 29-year-old passer threw four interceptions in his first career playoff start and carried the ball seven times for 58 yards and one fumble, accounting for five of his team’s nine turnovers in their surprise upset 38-17 loss to the Alouettes.
Kelly is up for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player award on Thursday night, representing the East Division. He threw for 4,123 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions along with 41 carries for 248 yards and eight touchdowns this season, leading the Argonauts to a 15-1 record as a starter.
“Maybe it was good for my career to understand I can’t be a superhero out there, I can’t always just force things. Sometimes it’s better off to take a sack, sometimes it’s better throwing the ball away and not forcing it and hoping your guy comes down with it,” he said.
“In the long run, I know it’ll benefit me, it’ll benefit a lot of guys. I hate to say that, but it’s part of the game. I gotta get better and I know I’m young. I’ve still got a lot to improve on, but there’s obviously a lot of positives to come from this season.”
The Buffalo native plans to split the off-season between Toronto and New York City. He owns a hyperbaric chamber and has used it to help with his recovery and plans to entertain NFL opportunities as they arise this off-season.
Though he’s leaving himself open to the possibility of making the jump down south, Kelly reiterated that he’s fully committed to the Argonauts should he remain in the CFL in 2024. He recently signed a three-year extension with the team through 2026, though all players league-wide have the option of pursuing the NFL during the early portion of the off-season.