Kelly got away from football for a few days early last month before his professional career began in earnest. Instead of lounging at the beach, he journeyed to Liberia as part of a contingent from a non-profit organization called Mercy Ships.
People from the charity travel around the world, providing medical care and other amenities to those in need. Kelly, his father and personal trainer spent almost a week in Liberia, working out with athletes and meeting people who have lived through years of a recently ended civil war.
“You’re talking about 3.5 million people in a city [Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia], and 80 percent of them don’t have electricity or running water in the city,” Kelly said. “There are still a lot of buildings that were bombed out. It was a harsh reality that some people have to go through much worse that we go through here.
“I went over there, and it was a life-changing experience. You see things, and then you realize you take things for granted every day. Once you go over there, you can’t complain about anything.”
Like expecting to be drafted in the first round but watched as 50 players were selected before him, including seven other wide receivers. Kelly looks like a prototypical franchise wide receiver, but he dropped in part because of slow 40-yard dash times. He is hoping to prove his “football speed” will trump any track skills.
While he made catch after catch in the camp’s opening days, one of the few members of the Redskins that didn’t boast about it was Kelly. No post-grab dances, no words of “encouragement” for the opposing defenders - just flip the ball to a staff member and jog back to the huddle.
But aren’t receivers supposed to be showmen?
“Nah, you ain’t supposed to,” Kelly said. “You don’t have to. I’d rather be a silent killer. You don’t see Larry Fitzgerald out there catching passes and talking trash. And really, I haven’t seen Santana [Moss] or Antwaan [Randle El] talking that much out there, either. I just try to go out there, make plays and keep my mouth shut.”
That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of talent in Kelly’s pipes. He earned plenty of recognition on the Internet for his talents as a freestyle rapper at Oklahoma. It was something he picked up as a kid, drifting down Texas roads in the backseat of his older brother’s car.
“I just kind of took to it, and it stuck with me,” Kelly said. “I’m really just playin’ around. It just so happens I’m pretty good at it.”
Are his musical talents something to consider for a post-football career path?
“Nah, not rapping - I can’t really relate to a lot of the rappers,” Kelly said. “They go through some stuff. I can’t go out there and lie. It would just be weird.”
He says no now, but it would be something unconventional.