Argos’ starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson believes a lot of NFL quarterbacks would ‘be cut very quickly’ in the CFL

Photo courtesy: Toronto Argonauts

The Toronto Argonauts have loaded up with weapons for another run at the Grey Cup, but one question continues to hang over the organization: is McLeod Bethel-Thompson the quarterback to get them over the hump?

While the journeyman starter is preparing for another year at the helm of the Boatmen, the team has brought in some big-name competition in the form of former NFL draft pick Chad Kelly.

The nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly carries with him high expectations after an outstanding college career at Ole Miss but failed to stick in the NFL due in part to off-the-field issues. He is just the latest in a long line of high-profile pivots to look to the CFL for redemption and while Kelly himself believes he is destined for Doug Flutie-like success, Bethel-Thompson warns it’s not that easy.

“The CFL is such an awesome challenge for the quarterback. I don’t think it’s talked about enough. I don’t think it’s publicized enough,” the 33-year-old incumbent told the media as training camps opened this week.

“There are a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL that would come up here and be cut very quickly because it is a really big adjustment. You’ve got to humble yourself, you’ve got to see the game differently, you’ve got to see your leverage differently.”

CFL fans need not be reminded of the many notable NFL and NCAA names that have failed to stick north of the border — just see the recent release of Ohio State star Cardale Jones by the Edmonton Elks — but Bethel-Thompson isn’t rooting for the same fate to befall any of his teammates. The veteran hopes he can be a resource for Kelly and the other new quarterbacks as they begin their CFL careers, making the transition easier on them than it was for him.

“I’m happy to help in any and all forms because I went through it and I’ve failed in every way possible,” Bethel-Thompson said. “Hopefully my failures can be some help and maybe they won’t fail in the same way, or they can at least hear my voice first before they fall down that rabbit hole or that well.”

“It’s a learning process and we’re getting after it every day. Shoot, I made a bunch of mistakes out there in practice, but we’re working together and building for the greater good.”

As for his status as the starter, Bethel-Thompson isn’t concerned about any challengers. He knows he’ll have to play better than last year for the Argos to reach their potential, but sees training camp as a fresh start.

“They say in 90 days you regenerate every cell in your whole body, so you’re a completely different human. From the time that we lost the East Final in December, I think it’s been about twice that, so I’m two different humans than I was at that point,” he laughed.

“Every year is different and this is obviously a different one. I’m embracing the challenges and the advantages that we have this year.”

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and youth football coach. He covers the CFL, the CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.