What Are The Argonauts Doing?

TORONTO (May 15) — My favorite professional sports team; in fact, the only team for which I maintain an emotional attachment, appears to be imploding before our very eyes. Or, at least partially imploding. How else can we explain the ongoing burlesque involving Chad Kelly, quarterback of the Toronto Argonauts? Is he suspended from team activity, as per an edict, last week, from the Canadian Football League? Or, is he not suspended because the penalty came from the CFL? Might the Argos suspend Kelly for the same number of games as the league (a minimum nine) or is the reigning Most Outstanding Player in purgatory… just in case the higher power reduces the sentence on appeal? No one seems to know… least of all the Argos themselves. And, it’s evolving into an embarrassment for a team that needs to be on the straight and narrow. Not indecisive or deceptive.

Within hours, earlier today, these headlines appeared on sports websites across the country:

And, it’s consistent with the confusion (to be polite) that evolved from Kelly appearing on the practice field at the University of Guelph last week… to the astonishment and incredulity of rival CFL clubs. Putting it bluntly, someone was stupid enough to either allow Kelly onto the field, or to glance the other way at an opportune moment. Whatever the case, it looked truly horrible on the Argonauts. Who, quite frankly, have appeared universally horrible since the second offensive series in last November’s Eastern final. When defensive back Marc–Antoine Dequoy of the Alouettes intercepted Kelly and rambled 102 yards the other way for a touchdown. The Argos were never in the game; Montreal romping, 38–17, at BMO Field, erasing all of the fun and excitement for fans of the Double Blue during a record–tying, 16–2 regular season. Somehow, and it really has never been examined closely, Kelly went from the league’s best player to an absolute clod. It was mind–boggling to watch as Kelly handed the ball to the Alouettes time and again; any high school quarterback could put up a better ball than Kelly tossed for a ghastly interception and touchdown early in the third quarter. Having PVR’d the game, I viewed a replay later that night and can still see the faraway look in Kelly’s eyes on the sideline while the debacle unfolded.

An old school chum that I ran into this week felt Kelly was “on the take”. Which is a bit of a stretch, even if that’s how bad it appeared. Another football buddy, after the playoff drubbing, said “Kelly had that CTE look in his eyes.”

What happened to the first–year starter and was it, in any way, related to the emotional fallout from a lawsuit he could see on the horizon? It looked almost as if Kelly suffered a mini–nervous breakdown after the Dequoy interception; teammates could see that he was off on a distant planet as they attempted to rally the stunned quarterback. And, it unavoidably had to bring Kelly’s character into question — even before news broke of the attempted dalliance with a female strength and conditioning coach no longer part of the club. Given a history of behavioral issues in his high school and college years, is Kelly truly the player around which the Argonauts want to build their brand? As it appeared during the Cinderella regular schedule last summer? Or, as many believe (including myself), should the Argos divest interest in Kelly and search for a quarterback that can not only play the game, but properly represent the club (and the city) away from the field? Right now, it appears as if the Argonauts wish to retain Kelly and keep him on the periphery. Or, do they? The story seems to change from one hour to the next.

It has to be a marketing nightmare. What can the Argos say in a season–ticket drive: COME WATCH CFL LEGEND CAMERON DUKES? Everything about the Boatmen evolved around Kelly, their marquee attraction.

As a season–ticket holder, I feel kind of ripped off. And, I doubt I’m alone. Even before all this Kelly nonsense came a 24–hour gutting of last year’s outstanding team, which included the loss in free agency of the most–dynamic performers apart from Kelly: running back A.J. Ouellette (to Saskatchewan) and kick–returner Javon Leake (to Edmonton along with kicker Boris Bede and star Canadian slotback Kurleigh Gittens Jr.). John Murphy, who recruits for the Double Blue, will ultimately find talent to replace the departed. That’s what happens in the CFL. But, he will not so–easily acquire the sustainable affection local sports fans had developed for Ouellette, a punishing halfback and irreverent character. Precisely what the Argos had lacked for so many years: a largely identifiable component. Now, he’s in Regina. And, the quarterback that handed him the ball through all of last season is somewhere in orbit around the football club; not easily seen, but surely within the team’s gravitational pull.

Does anyone know what’s going on around here?

What a disappointment for the growing number of Argo fans. After winning 16 of 18 matches and slicing undefeated through nine games at home, the Argonauts nearly sold out BMO Field for the regional final last November. Only to drive away first–time and curious onlookers with the most–inept playoff display in recent club history. What a dreadful time for the Boatmen to come up lame. On the cusp of this season, the three players perhaps mostcritical to the club — Kelly, Ouellette and Leake — are either not in the picture or freefalling in that orbit I referenced. How, then, can the Argos possibly retain the momentum they built last summer? A force that nearly filled BMO for the playoff match? This couldn’t have been the plan heading into the off season. Not by a long shot.

I’ll be the first to tell you I have no idea what is happening with the Argos.


Yeah, I was a radio reporter for many years. Covered mostly the Leafs, but also Argonaut Grey Cup victories in 1983 (Vancouver), 1991 (Winnipeg), 1996 (Hamilton) and 2004 (Ottawa). Today, I’m just a funeral guy who attends home games with his son. As my father did his son in the 1970’s. To call it a family tradition is hardly inaccurate. But, the excitement and dominance created by the club last year has gone poof! We are less than four weeks from the 2024 regular–season opener, June 9, when the B.C. Lions invade BMO Field. And, I could hardly care less. The Kelly situation, in particular, has turned me off. As it has others; especially women, I’m sure (if football teams actually care about the female species; it is traditionally a “man cave” sport). Which convinces me that a person (or people) above the principled Clemons is driving this boat. Pinball, of course, is shoved in front of cameras and microphones as the familiar face of the franchise. Heck, even he’s been stumbling over words.

And, who can blame the guy?

There’s no way Clemons would have so–thoroughly bungled this Kelly firestorm.

As an Argonaut fan dating to 1969, I’m sad. I truly am.


You’ll excuse me if I’m underwhelmed by the potential of Craig Berube coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs. In my view, there’s a thousand Berube’s out there — solid hockey men that understand the game. Much like Sheldon Keefe. So, how are the Leafs actually improving behind the bench with Berube replacing Keefe? Yes, Craig has a Stanley Cup ring with St. Louis in 2019… and was full value for the triumph. But, even Peter Horachek, the cursed man who replaced Randy Carlyle as Leafs coach in January 2015, may have guided the Blues to the 2019 title with Jordan Binnington performing as he did between the pipes. If you’re unaware, poor Horachek stepped in for Carlyle and was greeted with abundant energy by his proud charges. Toronto compiled a glorious 1–12–2 record in Horachek’s first 15 outings. Forever degrading the already suspect Phil Kessel–Dion Phaneuf era. No one can take the Stanley Cup ring from Berube, but neither do I believe that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment — with its endless resources — cannot attract a superior candidate. And, as featured in my last blog, there is only one person for the job: suspended former Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, still second (behind Scotty Bowman) in all–time National Hockey League victories. And, a three–time Cup champion (2010–13–15) with the Blackhawks.

Most observers are of the opinion that MLSE will choose to not bother with the process of getting Quenneville reinstated by commissioner Gary Bettman. Which sounds about right. When have the Leafs ever stepped outside the lines? Remaining unimaginative and timid is perfectly acceptable by the fan base. Here is a golden opportunity to hire the best NHL coach currently alive. For the prime years of Auston Matthews and William Nylander.


Too bad the Leafs aren’t the Golden Knights. They know how to get things done in Vegas.

Better yet, they care.


4 comments on “What Are The Argonauts Doing?

  1. The good ship Argos is currently listing so very badly. I’m not sure how I would have handled this situation during my six-year (1976-81) as the Boatmen’s director of communications and promotions, but I wouldn’t let it remain so muddled at that point in time when the team consistently was drawing 47,000 plus fans to its home. games at CNE Stadium.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more about the Argos. I have been a season ticket holder since 1995. I am a die hard. Last year’s Eastern Final was a gut punch. However there was still hope. They would learn from their mistakes and win it all in 2024.

    Now with the Kelly issue, (you know anyone that wants to buy a slightly used Kelly and Gittens Jr jersey) and the loss of the good players, I have no idea what they do this year. I have zero expectations. They have blown a great opportunity to possibly rekindle some fan support. Not now.

  3. Berube !!!!??? I just don’t get it. If in fact that happens, that will just put the icing on the farewell I’m done with you TMF Cake.
    That would rank right there with, “ we underwent an exhaustive search for a replacement but in the end decided to stay in house”
    Come on MLSE and KP don’t disappoint me

    1. That’s the MLSE way, “We’ve tried absolutely nothing, and we’re all out of ideas!” (from the Simpsons).

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