Decades from now, when you’re reading a story about Ele Mitchell and her prowess on the LPGA Tour, it will mention how her father used to play professional football. Then you can say you heard it here first.
If Bo Levi Mitchell could imagine the future for his yet-to-be born daughter, it’s as a champion golfer. The Calgary Stampeders quarterback would like nothing more than to be the second coming of Earl Woods and create a phenom in women’s golf.
“I’m probably not as good as Earl Woods,” Mitchell said with a laugh. “I will probably have to pay somebody to teach me.
“We’re looking forward to whatever life brings us and whatever Elie wants to do once she comes of age. I’m going to nudge her towards golf.”
This is a big month for Mitchell as he and wife Madi await the arrival of their first child. The reigning CFL most outstanding player also turned 27 on Friday, which now officially puts him into his late 20s.
It used to be that 27 was the time when a CFL quarterback started entering his prime years, but “Henry changed all that,” Mitchell says, referring to the recently retired Burris, who went out on top as a Grey Cup champion at age 41.
Considering what Mitchell has accomplished already at his young age, it would be remarkable to think about what he could do if he was to emulate the likes of Burris or Anthony Calvillo and play until middle age.
Mitchell is following Burris’ path in some respects though, as the franchise’s leading passer started his family in Calgary a few seasons into his tenure as the team’s No. 1 quarterback. Last season, Mitchell used Burris as inspiration to up the level of his fitness during the long CFL off-season, so the smiling one is a good model to follow.
With a newborn arriving in the next week (Madi Mitchell is due March 8), Mitchell’s life will undoubtedly change drastically. He and Madi are already preparing for that though, and they vow the same amount of work will be put into football as there was in previous seasons.
If anything, there is even more drive and motivation behind Mitchell’s work now. He has a family to provide for, and he knows the best way to do that is to keep working towards his goal of becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the CFL.
“We have to work together in order to make sure we handle it,” Mitchell said. “I need to lend a hand whenever I can. She’s already said she understands I have a job to do and a lot of focus has to go into that. I will definitely be changing the first diaper when I wake up at 4 to go to the stadium.
“We will figure it out from there. Nothing is going to change in my football life. You can’t do less preparation. I have always been a big believer that once you have a kid your main focus should turn to them and improving their lives as much as you can. That’s going to come a little later when the baby is older.”
Mitchell is excited about what has happened with the team this off-season. The team resigned his favourite target for the past few years, Marquay McDaniel, and retained many of the core players while adding a few pieces here and there. After a 15-2-1 season, there was bound to be some losses, and the major one was left tackle Derek Dennis leaving for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in free agency. Mitchell wishes Dennis well, but now the Stamps are moving on without him.
“He deserved it,” Mitchell said. “There’s always going a guy or two each year that heads to free agency and has a big year before they hit the market. They are going to go out and get a paycheque. That’s what some guys live for and what some guys play the game for.
“Other guys play to stay loyal and win games. That’s what I’m looking to do and that’s the same with the guys who are still here.”
There aren’t too many quarterbacks who come into the CFL and have the type of instant success that Mitchell has had. He has the record for best winning percentage to start a career, has an MOP, a Grey MVP and taken his team to a title. That all happened before he turned 27.
Only the likes of Ricky Ray or Warren Moon did so much early in their careers. Us on the outside can reflect on his accomplishments, but Mitchell prefers to look forward. And he would like nothing more than to continue the run the Stamps have been on the past few seasons, and play as long as possible in this same organization.
“I have so much more to go,” Mitchell said. “It will come from the guys who are around me. If we keep adding to the group around me and allowing our offence to evolve, then our entire team will be dangerous for a lot of years. That’s the hope and the plan.
“You want to start and end your career in one place. You look around and it doesn’t happen for a lot of guys out there. The chips have to fall in the right place obviously.”