McLeod Bethel-Thompson has sole control of fourth place on the Toronto Argonauts’ all-time passing list but the veteran journeyman is not yet ready to relish his spot amongst the greats.
“Quarterbacks are measured by wins and right now, we’re a .500 team,” Bethel-Thompson told the media following his team’s 37-20 victory over Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday.
“That’s kind of where my mindset is at. I see myself as a .500 quarterback so there’s progress to be made. There’s more consistent plays to be made and I’m going to do everything in my abilities, everything I possibly can to get there, to be that guy for this team.”
The 34-year-old passed Doug Flutie, a player considered by many to be the greatest quarterback in CFL history, midway through the game. A six-time Most Outstanding Player, Flutie spent just two seasons in Toronto, racking up 11,255 yards through the air as he steered the team to two Grey Cups.
Bethel-Thompson has spent five seasons with the Argonauts, serving as at least a part-time starter in four of those. He won a Grey Cup as the team’s backup in 2017 but has not replicated that success in his time at the helm.
Nevertheless, he now sits behind only Damon Allen, Condredge Holloway, and Ricky Ray in the Argos’ record book — a fact he won’t spend any time thinking about during the season.
“That’s probably something I’ll look back on after my career’s done. Those names are unbelievable, they’re just legends, so I’m not really worried about it right now,” Bethel-Thompson deflected. “I’m worried about getting above .500, that’s kind of my focus this week. If you look back on that, you become casual. When you are casual, you become a casualty.”
Through ten games this season, Bethel-Thompson has thrown for 2,764 yards, 13 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. His 258-yard, three-touchdown performance against Hamilton moved his team to 5-5 on the season with a second-half surge, keeping sole control of first place in the East Division despite a heartbreaking loss to Montreal last week.
“We knew what was at stake with this game. It was a huge game for our season; a huge game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, a division rival,” Bethel-Thompson admitted.
“Coming off last week, I had a pretty sick taste in my mouth so the way we came out at halftime, that’s the team we can be. Unfortunately, it’s the same answer; can we do that for 60 minutes? If we can do that for 60 minutes, it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Toronto poured on 27 points after the intermission and Bethel-Thompson found both DaVaris Daniels and Markeith Ambles for touchdowns, adding to the major thrown to Kurleigh Gittens Jr. in the final minute of the first half.
It was a complete team effort that allowed the veteran pivot to climb the all-time list, a fact he drove home after complimenting running back A.J. Ouellette for a pair of crucial blitz pickups.
“That’s what it is, man. 12 bodies as one, everyone doing their job, everyone leaning in. It’s a work of art, man. It’s what football is all about. It’s why I love this game,” Bethel-Thompson said.
“When we all lean in, on offence everyone has to do their job, and then it’s artwork. We had moments there and I hope that it’s the start of something.”