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Chad Kelly goes from ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ to CFL’s Most Outstanding Player

Former Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is this year's winner of the George Reed Most Outstanding Player award (Photo from the CFL/X)

From “Mr. Irrelevant” in the NFL to Mr. MVP in the Canadian Football League, former Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is making a name for himself in the country up north.

Kelly, who played in Oxford from 2015-16 after one-year stops at Clemson and East Mississippi Community College, was originally drafted with the final pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. After three seasons split between the Denver Broncos, the Indianapolis Colts, and a handful of negative headlines, Kelly made his way to the CFL where he has since become a star.

Kelly’s stardom reached the pinnacle of his professional career, to this point, on Thursday night when the CFL honored him with the 2023 George Reed Most Outstanding Player award – which is actually named after another Mississippian. Kelly, in his first year as the Toronto Argonaut’s starting signal caller, led the league in multiple categories while going on to throw for 4,123 yards and 31 total touchdowns.

“This is a feeling that I’ve never felt before. It’s amazing,” Kelly said at the award ceremony. “Obviously, [George Reed’s] legacy is cemented throughout the whole CFL, and his legacy is going to live on forever. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of this.”

After coming in for an injured McLeod Bethel-Thompson during last season’s Grey Cup, Kelly led the Argos in a comeback victory to win the franchise’s first championship since 2017. His stellar performance secured the starting role going into this season and earned him a CFL-record $1.865 million deal over three years.

In 2023, Kelly helped Toronto to a 16-2 regular season record and its third consecutive Eastern Final. He is the first Argo to win Most Outstanding Player since wide receiver Chad Owens did it in 2012.

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