OPINION: Kelly’s second chance at football is all about privilege

Don’t call it a comeback! Swag Kelly has been here for years.

Swag Kelly (government name Chad Patrick Kelly) is the former record-setting  quarterback at Ole Miss who torched Nick Saban’s vaunted defense, the man who rewrote the Rebels record books (move over Manning family), and the man who proudly holds the title of “Best White Boy Rapper from Western New York Related to a Member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.” 

I mean we only thought that Ice Cube or LL Cool J were multi-talented entertainers that began in hip-hop. They ain’t got nuthin’ on Swag Kelly.

Kelly is back on an NFL roster as the 25-year-old was signed by the Indianapolis Colts on Monday. Typically a guy competing for the backup’s backup job isn’t worth writing about but Kelly receiving yet another chance at gridiron glory (the rapping career has regrettably been put on hold), is also the best example of white privilege.

Let’s recap some of Kelly’s highlights — a mix tape of missteps if you will.

For reasons that were never released, Kelly was suspended from the Red Line High School football team as a freshman before being eventually kicked off the team as a sophomore.

The four-time Punt, Pass & Kick national champion, though, found a home back in western New York at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute. Kelly would become a four-star prospect after he racked up more than 4,000 total yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior. 

This was also the same time that he dropped his rap song (if you search hard enough you can find the 5-mic classic on the internet) but after a listen it becomes apparent that Kelly should have banned him from playing football ever again. It was as if a Dave Chapelle show’s skit came to life, but not nearly as funny.

Yet, despite those awful mic skills, the dual-threat quarterback was recruited by Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State and Clemson — where he would eventually sign. 

Kelly proved to have too much swag for Clemson.

After appearing in a few games as a redshirt freshman in 2013, Kelly would be dismissed from Clemson’s football team the following spring, as he apparently lost his cool and erupted on the sideline during the spring scrimmage. 

Kelly was benched and cut the following day. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney stated “Chad has had a pattern of behavior that is not consistent with the values of our program.”

Maybe Swinney didn’t think Kelly’s rhymes were dope enough?

Kelly, who also reportedly threatened to quit the team to play lacrosse if he didn’t get his way, was also at the same time involved in a fender-bender with former Miss America, and Clemson alum, Ali Rogers and things got heated due to her wanting to file a police report on the incident.

Kelly had to bounce out of South Carolina because apparently the haters were just hating too much.

The dual-threat quarterback would land at East Mississippi Community College — better known by its infamous TV show monikor “Last Chance U” where troubled but talented football prospects get another chance at the junior college.

Kelly showed out at EMCC where he threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 47 total touchdowns as he led the Lions to the NJCAA National Football Championship. Once again he appeared on the radar of Power 5 teams.

Kelly signed with Ole Miss to play for Hugh Freeze, who we all know is renowned for sound personal decision making. What? It is not smart to have escorts on your speed dial? This is news to me.

Kelly thrived in his first season in Oxford.

He scored 41 touchdowns, led the SEC in passing and total offense, became the first Rebels QB to lead the school to wins over Alabama, Auburn and LSU in the same season, guided the Rebels to its first Sugar Bowl since Archie Manning nearly 50 years earlier, and was named Sugar Bowl MVP.

Kelly, though, nearly threw that opportunity in the dumpster.

Less than two weeks after signing with Ole Miss, Kelly was arrested following a 3 a.m. altercation at a Buffalo bar. Kelly allegedly punched a bouncer, threatened to go to his car and get his AK-47 and “spray the place”, and ended the night being pepper sprayed by police officers and spending the night in lockup for a multitude of charges including criminal mischief and assault and menacing and maybe for that song — one can hope.

So you know a random Tuesday evening for Johnny Manziel.

Kelly’s second season ended with a torn ACL that affected his draft stock — that and his colorful past. 

Despite his turbulent career in high school and college, Kelly still managed to get drafted by the Denver Broncos with the last selection in the 2017 NFL Draft — better known as Mr. Irrelevant.

Kelly was also at this time trolled by porn star Mia Khalifa, who mocked him falling in the draft and told the world how he kept trying to DM for a hook up with the adult film actress.  

After not playing his rookie year, he was placed on the non-football injury list for offseason wrist surgery. During training camp and the 2018 preseason, Kelly would impress and become Case Keenum’s backup, but then Swag Kelly proved to have too much swag for the Mile High city.

Last October, the Broncos released Kelly following his arrest on suspicion of first-degree criminal trespassing after he allegedly entered a woman’s place of residence after leaving teammate Von Miller’s Halloween party. Kelly sat on the couch next to her mumbling to himself or to his imaginary friends or maybe to Hugh Freeze and didn’t leave the house until he was hit with a vacuum cleaner tube. Kelly would later plead guilty to misdemeanor second-degree criminal trespassing for the incident.

So a random Thursday for Manziel.

To recap, Kelly has been suspended and kicked off his high school team, college team and pro team. He also has been arrested multiple times and got dissed by a porn star. 

Not exactly the guy you want on your roster or in your neighborhood or to run into at the local grocery store parking lot. Yet, he received another chance.

The fact that he is Jim Kelly’s nephew of course has played a huge role in Kelly continuing to get second, third and fourth chances. Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich is of course a close personal friend of Jim’s and his former backup in Buffalo.

The other harsh reality is this — Kelly is white and that’s why he got another opportunity.

Because if his name was Jerome “Swag” Kelly who had tattoos, made a rap song, had multiple run-ins with the law, got dissed by a porn star and got kicked off multiple teams there is no way in hell that he would be anywhere near a football field no matter his uncle was famous.

If you are an athlete and your skin is of the mocha color spectrum, you get fewer chances at redemption than your pale skinned counterparts. 

Kentucky’s Andre’ Woodson put up huge numbers (he broke Danny Wuerffel’s SEC record for passing touchdowns in a season), led the Wildcats to a Top 10 ranking and a triple-overtime victory over No. 1 LSU.  

Yet, Woodson, who does not have the rap sheet of Kelly, never got off the practice squad and was out of the NFL after two years. Kelly meanwhile gets yet another chance.

Kelly embodies the privilege given to the slew of other white boys (see Manziel) who cop the swag of hip-hop and street culture but grow up with a silver spoon in their mouths. 

So, yeah — don’t call it a comeback. White Privilege has been here for years.