Chad Kelly’s words painted the picture of someone who had been humbled.
After throwing away his first chance to play quarterback in the NFL, with the Denver Broncos, he found himself back in his native Western New York. Another in a series of off-field issues had put the nephew of former Buffalo Bills quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly at one of the lower points of his football life.
“I was living in Buffalo, living in my parents' basement,” Kelly told reporters in Indianapolis Wednesday, according to a transcript released by the Colts. He had just finished an OTA practice with the team that gave him his second NFL chance by signing him as a fourth quarterback last week.
What was he doing during the seven months since the Broncos released him after he was arrested on suspicion of first-degree trespassing?
“Just reflecting, reading the Bible, reading testimonies, just reading different things to kind of clear my brain, to kind of refocus,” Kelly said. “To understand that you are lucky to play this great game – 20 years of hard work can be gone just like that (snaps). I have had two ACLs.
"I have had multiple shakeups, but you know what, one thing is I am going to keep on bouncing back. Whether it’s yesterday, tomorrow, whatever the future might hold, but I am going to hit it straight on.”
The Denver arrest came after Kelly allegedly entered the residence of a woman after he left a Halloween party thrown by teammate Von Miller. On March 20, the former St. Joe’s High School and Ole Miss star pleaded guilty to misdemeanor second-degree criminal trespassing.
Kelly described himself as “being lost” since the Broncos cut him.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Kelly said. “You’ve got a lot of time on your hands. Whether it’s you start focusing on the good Lord upstairs and praying for another chance, speaking to your friends, former teammates that you had, guys that are just encouraging you, family that is encouraging you each and every day. You can go out there and work as hard as you want, but if you are not on the football field, then what does it mean then if you are working hard?
"I just want to be the best player I can be and help this team as much as I can.”
Did he doubt another NFL club would give him an opportunity?
“Honestly I really didn’t know,” Kelly said. “I really couldn’t tell you what I was feeling like. You were kind of lost, you kind of look to the good Lord, you talk to close friends and family and at the end of the day you’ve got to move on. You’ve got to get ready for whatever life brings you. I was just reading, doing as much as I could to stay active on the field and in the weight room, and thank God that I was able to get another chance.”
Last week, Colts coach and former Bills quarterback Frank Reich told reporters the team did its homework before signing Kelly.
“Whenever you take a person in Chad’s situation, it’s a case-by-case basis,” Reich said, via a Colts transcript. “I felt like, from the tape that we saw, what the scouts thought (and) what we saw looking at the tape, the vetting that we did, the people we talked to, it just felt like we would give Chad a chance here to come in and compete as the fourth guy coming in and felt comfortable at that point with it.”
Reich said he had spoken multiple times with Kelly’s uncle, with whom he has remained close since they were Buffalo teammates.
“Oh, absolutely,” the coach said. “When you are vetting these things out you talk with everybody you know, and obviously Jim and I are close. So I know that Jim has been mentoring Chad in a lot of ways and talking to him over the last year about being a pro and so on and so forth. So that played into it a little bit.”
The younger Kelly said he speaks with his uncle almost weekly.
“I talked to him (Tuesday) night,” Chad said. “He wants the best for me. He wants to see me do good. He wants to see my family happy, too, more than anything, his little brother (Kevin), my Dad. That’s what it’s all about.
"Those guys have been through ups and downs, everybody has, but to see your son and my little brother, they want to see me do good and I want to see myself do good as well. It’s a fun time right now because I have this opportunity so I want to make the best of it.”