It has been a rough road at times for both Kelly Bryant and Martavis Bryant, two former Clemson players that also happen to be cousins.
After a successful collegiate career in Clemson, Martavis would be a fourth round selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2014 draft. Bryant went onto show huge promise over his first few seasons but eventually found himself in trouble with the league. After a stint with the Raiders in 2018, Bryant has been out of the NFL for the past two seasons.
The highly talented receiver from the state of South Carolina said that while he considered an attempt at making it back to the NFL, thinking of all the politics involved made him decide on going a different route.
“I was thinking about going back to the league, and then I was like, ‘Man, I don’t want to go through all of the politics of dealing with that stuff anymore, so I’m just going to go up to Canada and play ball,’” Martavis said via the CFL website. “(Toronto) is probably the city I’ve heard the most about in Canada. I know of a bunch of cities up there, but that was just the most exciting one that I wanted to come play for.”
Former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant has also had his share of bad luck, but most of his came from circumstances beyond his control. After waiting patiently behind Clemson legend Deshaun Watson for his turn, Bryant finally got his shot to start for the Tigers in 2017.
Bryant led Clemson to an ACC Championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff, but there is no denying the offense just wasn’t the same. It was tailored to fit what Bryant did best and became more run-heavy.
The next season saw another generational talent arrive on the Clemson campus in the form of Trevor Lawrence. Four games into the 2018 season and the freshman phenom had supplanted Bryant for the starting quarterback job.
Bryant had two choices. Choose to ride the bench the rest of the season, redshirt and then transfer. Or he could leave right away and transfer. He chose the latter, a decision that didn’t sit well with some fans, despite the fact that he had the full support of his teammates.
Bryant has always maintained he was trying to make the best of a difficult situation and says he has learned some valuable lessons over the past few years.
“On the player side, it’s just a business,” Kelly said. “Teams have to do what’s best for them. For me being a player, I just have to come in with a mindset that it’s just a business and things are happening that you may agree or disagree with, you’re there for a reason. Make the most of the opportunity. Some don’t go your way. You just have to look forward to the next day and inspire ways to be better instead of trying to think of ways that things could have been different.
“From that aspect, I just tried not to get my personal feelings involved in the business side of the sport that we love. For me personally, yeah, it was tough. Being there for four years and being in South Carolina, my home state, I had a lot of support. So it was tough for me to leave. But Clemson is truly near and dear to my heart. I still have connections and I’m thankful each and every day to have made those relationships.”
Playing his final season of college football at Missouri in 2019, Bryant completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,215 yards and 15 touchdowns. However, he went undrafted in the 2020 draft and with the pandemic preventing undrafted rookies from working out for teams, Bryant found himself in a precarious position. At the end of the day, he just wanted to make the most out of an unfortunate situation.
“I just wanted to try and get on a team at that point, whether it was the NFL or CFL,” Kelly said. “I just want to play at the end of the day. So when (Toronto) reached out, my interest literally went through the roof.”