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Here’s hoping Chad Kelly matures, and at Ole Miss

Bucky Gleason

Let me begin by saying that I believed the kid but, more importantly, I believed in the kid. Chad Kelly was polite and respectful when we spoke three months ago, so much so that I wondered whether he was genuine. But what are you going to do, question a young man for being too nice?

You give a 20-year-old the benefit of the doubt. You hope that he was scared straight after his mouth and behavior led to him getting kicked off the football team at Clemson. You assume that he had been bawled out when he returned home. You pray that he learned his lesson and was humbled.

Kelly is in trouble again, this time after getting into an altercation outside a Buffalo nightclub and later for giving the cops a hard time. He’s facing seven charges that likely will be dismissed or reduced, as they would be for any first-time offender whether or not he was a Division I quarterback.

The University of Mississippi was looking into the charges less than a week after giving Kelly a full scholarship and joining the restoration of his career. In fact, it was an improvement over Clemson. Ole Miss is ranked ninth in the country and plays in the mighty Southeast Conference.

Rebels coach Hugh Freeze certainly doesn’t need the aggravation. The ink was barely dry on Kelly’s letter of intent with Ole Miss before he validated his reputation for being mouthy, self-absorbed and short-tempered, for questioning authority, for acting like he’s better than the people around him.

Kelly was the top-rated quarterback coming out of junior college after taking East Mississippi Community College to the national championship. The kid can definitely play. He’s a football savant, with a million-dollar mind when reading defenses. Unfortunately, he has shown a 10-cent brain when comprehending the rules of life.

It’s about time he grows up. Kelly’s lawyer outlined an argument for him, basically claiming that Kelly didn’t initiate the melee in the wee hours Sunday morning outside of Encore on Pearl Street. In other words, it wasn’t his fault.

What started the run-in with the bouncers, which led to Kelly shooting off his mouth, which led to the cops, which led to this hideous mess? None of that matters to me. It doesn’t change the simple fact that Kelly was given numerous opportunities to remove himself from a bad situation and refused.

Let’s not forget that he didn’t belong in Encore in the first place. He’s 20 years old, not legally old enough to drink alcohol. Regardless, when you’re getting kicked out of a bar at 3:15 a.m., whether it’s your fault or not, it’s time to skedaddle. Wake up the next morning and live another day.

And that goes back to the heart of his problem, an utter lack of self-awareness that appears to be his greatest flaw. Kelly had options when the scuffle broke out and should have employed whatever common sense he had when he started getting his muscles up after a night out.

Rather than defuse the situation, knowing what he had at stake, he invited more trouble in the aftermath. Police said he threatened to return and spray the place with an AK-47, which seemed more like hysterical babble from an immature kid who was unraveling than an actual plan of attack by Machine Gun Kelly.

These days, there are no idle threats, not when you see gunmen shooting up schools, not when two New York City cops were slain hours earlier, not when they come from an angry college kid who had just been booted from a bar in which he didn’t belong. The cops needed to investigate.

Kelly still could have avoided the mess when the car in which he was a passenger was pulled over. He likely would have been sent on his way if he was polite and respectful with the police and downplayed the altercation outside the bar while allowing them to check the car for weapons.

Instead, according to them, he resisted. The situation escalated. He was hauled downtown and charged with third-degree assault, second-degree harassment, second-degree menacing, resisting arrest, fourth-degree criminal mischief and second-degree obstructing governmental administration.

Right when it appeared his life was back in order and his career was back on track, he fell off the rails. It was the last thing his family needed, especially with Christmas approaching. It has been a trying year for the Kelly clan, to say the least, given his uncle’s illness and recovery and Chad’s problems at Clemson.

Kelly doesn’t need his family protecting him in this situation, either. His latest stunt was troubling. It was stupid. It was disrespectful. It was embarrassing. He should be punished. His family should support him through the process with the idea they can finally drive home a lesson.

The legal process will take its course. Ole Miss will determine his future with the program.

Forget football. Losing his scholarship will be the least of his problems if he doesn’t get his act together. He has exhausted his allotment of young-and-dumb excuses. He knows the difference between right and wrong. He needs to understand that he’s not an ordinary 20-year-old.

The sooner that Chad Kelly understands that Chad Kelly was the problem, the sooner his problems will be solved. He needs a major attitude adjustment and a better understanding of his place in the world. He needs to conclude enough is enough before somebody else does it for him.

Here’s hoping Freeze doesn’t pull Kelly’s scholarship, but not because Kelly can help his football team. It’s because Freeze and his football team can help Kelly. Everyone knows he can play. He needs to develop and mature into a responsible human being. Despite all the trouble, I believe he can.


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