Argos In A Hellacious Scenario

TORONTO (Apr. 11) — I can only imagine the angst; the fear and the disappointment that has overwhelmed the Toronto Argonauts in recent months… and far–more quietly than it would have in an earlier era.

Good Lord, how this city would be erupting in scandal were the star quarterback of the Double Blue — anytime between 1967 and 1983 — accused of harassment in the workplace (with sexual innuendo) leading to wrongful dismissal. During the term of such figures as Wally Gabler, Tom Wilkinson, Joe Theismann, Chuck Ealey, Condredge Holloway and Joe Barnes (particularly with Leo Cahill as coach), when the Argos were as popular as the Leafs, any such allegation would have been front–page news; not just Sports front, but the cover of the paper.

Today, it barely causes a ripple.

Make no mistake, however: that ripple will become an onrushing tsunami for the football club if the charges against Chad Kelly are proven in court. Providing, of course, there isn’t a quiet settlement beforehand. But, even at this moment, how do the Argos react to their franchise figure and reigning Canadian Football League most outstanding player being sued by a former club employee? After a record–tying 16–2 season and a prodigious flop in the Eastern final playoff game against Montreal? With training camps for the 2024 CFL season beginning in May… and Toronto’s schedule opener, at home against the B.C. Lions, less than two months from now (June 9)?

Silence can last only so long… even with the Boatmen.


But, neither do I envy those that have put their lives into the Double Blue — no one more–so than general manager Mike (Pinball) Clemons, the three–time Grey Cup champion (1991–96–97) at running back and easily the most–popular figure in modern franchise history. I can still see the forlorn expression on Pinball’s normally happy face from a TSN feed in the final moments of the Eastern showdown last November. With the Alouettes cleaning the field against the heavily favored home side. And, Kelly suddenly looking as if he’d never–before thrown a football. Presumably, this was prior to the allegations arising, but maybe not. Perhaps Pinball knew something we didn’t… and saw storm clouds on the horizon. Whatever the case, I truly feel for Mike. Just when the Argonauts seemed to be gaining a bit of traction (they nearly sold out BMO Field for the Montreal game), the worst–ever playoff performance by a starting quarterback came on the heels of a more–serious dilemma for Kelly.

And, for the football club.

The plaintiff is a former strength and conditioning coach with the Argos; a female employee. The excellent website, 3DownNation, filed this story that outlines the accusations against Kelly:

An addition titled ‘Bills Incident’ in the file obtained by 3DownNation outlines an alleged occurrence from October 2022, which stemmed from a discussion about attending NFL games that took place during a team stretch session outside BMO Field. Kelly allegedly told the plaintiff he has connections with the Buffalo Bills and can get tickets for himself, her, and teammates at any time and at no cost. In the days leading up to the NFL game, Kelly was allegedly adamant about the group renting accommodations to stay for the night after the game. After telling him multiple times that she would make her own travel arrangements and return home right after the game, Kelly continued to try to get her to stay over.

The plaintiff sought approval from general manager Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons to attend the game as an Argos representative and received it. Kelly was allegedly “visibly aggravated” when she told him she’d met with Clemons saying, “Oh man, why would you tell Pinball? You shouldn’t have gone to Pinball. You shouldn’t have done that. Why the f*** would you go to Pinball?” Shortly after, a co-worker told the plaintiff that while in the quarterback meeting room, Kelly allegedly yelled and cussed her name. According to the lawsuit, he revoked the free invitation to the Bills game and asked her to pay $500 USD for the tickets. She did not go to the game or pay Kelly any money. She stated Kelly became “very adamant” toward the end of the 2023 season about “hanging out” outside work. When she refused, Kelly “visibly got mad and aggravated.” The lawsuit alleges that Kelly planned movie or dinner dates, but she declined. On one occasion, Kelly allegedly told her they would need only 30 minutes for a date, a comment that “took her aback.” She reminded Kelly they both had partners and his advances were unacceptable and unprofessional — she was not interested.

When she tried to address his behaviour, Kelly allegedly reacted violently and stated he “cannot wait” until she got fired. In a new statement, she pleads Kelly and the Argos are jointly viable for wrongful termination of her employment with the franchise, with damages estimated at approximately $85,714.28. She claims Kelly and the Argos are also liable for $10,000 in punitive damages. Kelly’s lawyer, Nancy M. Shapiro from Koskie Minsky LLP, provided a statement: “We do not believe the claims made against Mr. Kelly have any merit and we are taking steps to defend the action.”

During the CFL Combine in Winnipeg, Clemons told the media that the Argos are preparing for Kelly to be the team’s starting quarterback this season. He and head coach Ryan Dinwiddie indicated they learned about the lawsuit at the same time as the public and are cooperating with the league’s investigation.

And, really, that’s all we’ve heard from the Argos. Perhaps for legal reasons… but, how to explain to the masses the situation involving last season’s almost hero? Does the club simply move forward as if nothing happened (which, technically, is true until Kelly has his “day in court”)? Or, does the storied franchise, through its revered spokesman, offer the public a more heartfelt sentiment? If I know Pinball, and depending on how this scenario unfolds in the next couple of months, he’ll choose Door No. 2. Somehow. And, only as he can. Until then, Kelly, the nephew of Buffalo Bills legendary quarterback, Jim Kelly, must be presumed not liable for the civil action.


The worldwide bulletin, earlier today, that O.J. Simpson had died after a battle with prostate cancer surely came as welcomed news to the families of his ex–wife, Nicole Brown, and Brown’s friend, Ronald Goldman. The person whose voice and face has haunted them for nearly three decades is no more. And, what a coincidence that O.J.’s demise occurred 34 years to the day that another unpopular soul met his maker. Leafs owner Harold Ballard passed away on this date in 1990. Just as I got into my car for a drive to Pearson Airport and an evening flight to St. Louis (via Detroit). Preparing to cover Game 5 of the opening–round playoff series between the Blues and Leafs for CJCL AM–1430, still more than two years before we became Canada’s first all–sports radio station.

To honor their fallen proprietor the next eve at old St. Louis Arena, the Leafs died like dogs against Brett Hull, Adam Oates and the Missourians. Within days, a stuck–in–the–mud franchise began to come alive, once again, under the guidance of the late Donald Giffin, who hired Cliff Fletcher away from Calgary as GM. Fletcher re–opened the doors of Maple Leaf Gardens to the club’s alumni, all of which were persona non grata under Ballard.

Two years later — after hiring Pat Burns as head coach and trading with his former team for Doug Gilmour — the Leafs, under Fletcher, advanced as deeply into the playoffs in the post–1967 era, losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup semifinals to Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. Only three other Leaf squads (1994, 1999, 2002) since the club’s last championship have advanced as far as the NHL’s final four.

As for Simpson, it’s a bit difficult to fathom that the 30th anniversary of the Brentwood double–murder is coming up… on June 12. I remember being at Madison Square Garden the next night for Game 7 of that marvelous Stanley Cup final in 1994 between the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. Sitting in the auxiliary press location up behind one of the goals with Bob McKenzie and Dave Hodge of TSN. In the third period, not long before the Rangers finally ended their 54–year championship drought, word somehow filtered through the Garden that Simpson was a suspect in the crime that many were just learning about. That story, of course, blew wide open, evolving into the most–sensational murder trial in modern American jurisprudence; the first covered live from start to finish by a national news network, CNN. To the chagrin of white people — and the euphoria of most blacks — Simpson defeated a mountain of forensic and circumstantial evidence in the “acquittal of the century”.

Only to take a loaded gun into a Las Vegas hotel a few years later while attempting to recover football memorabilia he claimed was his. That led, perhaps fatefully, to a prison term that was shortened, in 2017, by good behavior. After his widely covered parole hearing, the former great running back with the Buffalo Bills kept a low profile.

The news of his death, today, caught many by surprise.


3 comments on “Argos In A Hellacious Scenario

  1. Damn. Anyone can say anything. But these exchanges are so detailed I find it almost impossible to not believe the trainer. I don’t believe you can just move forward and hope it all blows over. And why was she terminated? on Kelly’s say so? Wow.
    Argos need to fix this. Fast. The female staff is not harem for players to choose from in any sport.

  2. No, there is no “presumed innocent” in this case. The concept of “innocent until proven guilty” only applies in CRIMINAL cases. This is not a criminal case; Kelly and the Argos have not been charged with any criminal offences.

    This is a civil action commenced by a fomer team employee. In a civil action she is NOT required to prove anything ‘beyond a reasonable doubt” (the standard in criminal cases), but rather she must prove her case ‘on a balance of probabilities.’

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