Chad Kelly’s confusing public battle over his rescinded NFL Scouting Combine invitation has reached a conclusion. The former Ole Miss quarterback will not make the trip to Indianapolis at all, agent Vance McAllister told SEC Country, despite his representation’s best efforts to challenge the league ruling.
McAllister and Duray Oubre previously considered sending Kelly to the event regardless, in hopes that their client could at least interview with pro teams and have medical exams. But now Kelly will not accompany them to the event. As of Monday, McAllister said that a final written appeal submitted to the NFL had gone unanswered.
Initially, the NFL included Kelly on its list of 300-plus Combine invitees. He was then deemed no longer allowed to attend because of an obscure league policy related to the disciplinary history of draft prospects.
According to Yahoo’s Eric Edholm, the policy states that “draft-eligible prospects will not be permitted to participate in any aspect of the Combine if a background check reveals a conviction of a felony or misdemeanor involving violence or use of a weapon, domestic violence, sexual offense and/or sexual assault. The NFL also reserves the right to deny participation of any prospect dismissed by their university or the NCAA.”
Kelly, whose uncle is Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, was dismissed by Clemson in 2014. Later that year, Buffalo, N.Y., police arrested Chad Kelly on multiple misdemeanor charges following an altercation with law enforcement officers, some of which was captured in a widely shared video. He pleaded guilty to a non-criminal charge of disorderly conduct and agreed to community service.
The issue worked its way up to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, whom Kelly’s representatives spoke with on a conference call a weeks ago.
The takeaway? Kelly simply fell within the letter of the rule, and the league took particular issue with the video of the bar fight. As with many of its decisions these days, the NFL’s concern over preserving its public image shaped this outcome.
The 2017 NFL Combine begins Tuesday and runs through March 7. It is a key testing platform the the NFL Draft, which begins April 27. In addition to medical exams and on-field evaluations, players meet with teams in interviews and take strength and intelligence testing.
The NFL received wide criticism for reascending Kelly’s invitation because of the seemingly arbitrary nature of the rule. Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook, for instance, was arrested twice on complaints of misdemeanor family violence. But Westbrook will attend the Combine because charges were dismissed or dropped in both incidents.
The rule also hinders NFL front offices from conducting a thorough evaluation of Kelly, regarded as among the most talented quarterbacks in the 2017 draft class. As a senior, Kelly threw for 2,758 yards and 19 touchdowns before a torn ACL and meniscus ended his season in early November. Given his mistakes and recent major injury, Kelly would benefit from attending interview and medical evaluation sessions.
Kelly plans to work out for scouts at Ole Miss Pro Day, which will take place in Oxford on April 3.