When the Stampeders replaced Bo Levi Mitchell at halftime against the Toronto Argonauts in Week 11, it potentially marked the end of an era in Calgary.
Backup Jake Maier went on to win the game in the second half and earned the start a week later against Winnipeg, taking over the top job for the foreseeable future. However, with the team staying on the road due to a short week, fans back home could only guess at Mitchell’s state of mind through a statement he made on Instagram.
Standing in front of the assembled media in Calgary for the first time since the benching, Mitchell finally addressed the change on Thursday.
“It’s weird,” the veteran quarterback said of his transition into a second-string role. “It’s different in meetings and different on the field. It’s boring. Boring sitting out there doing nothing.”
“It’s tough, obviously. I believe in myself. I want to be the guy and I want to be out there at all times. But I believe in all of the quarterbacks we have in that room and the guys that are making decisions up top.”
On two separate occasions during the brief appearance, Mitchell expressed the belief that he should still be the team’s starter but has chosen to put the team’s success ahead of his own immediate wants.
“Obviously, I have my own opinions and feelings on the matter, but I talked to guys earlier this year that felt slighted at certain positions and I just kind of told them that you can have your own feelings and your own things about what’s going on on the field. You just never have that, become a distraction to the team,” Mitchell said.
“That’s something I’ll never do — I’ll never be selfish like that and become a distraction to our team. I’m just going to continue to work. Obviously, I have stuff I need to work on so I can continue to get better and make sure I’m ready to go.”
Mitchell does think that sitting on the sidelines will be beneficial for him in the long term and that watching Maier closely against Winnipeg showed him how he needed to improve.
“Just be more efficient” Mitchell offered. “I think watching Jake that last game, what he did was he was very accurate on his short throws and was very efficient in everything he did, his screen game and quick game.
“When you have a guy out there running the same offence as you and there’s something he’s doing and doing well, you realize that maybe there are some things I can work on to continue to get better so that when it is my number called, the offence will run smoothly.”
According to Mitchell, the quarterbacking change wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction from head coach Dave Dickenson but rather the result of an open battle between himself and Maier that started before the season kicked off.
“It wasn’t super public but we obviously came into this year competing for the job and I felt great winning it out of training camp. But things, in some people’s opinion, haven’t gone the way that we want to,” Mitchell explained. “Obviously, I view that differently. The thing is, we are a successful team right now. We are doing well. We are not where we want to be and we definitely can get there.”
The 32-year-old sounded somewhat resigned when discussing his career beyond this season.
“As far as my future, I’ll deal with that when it comes,” he said. “There is obviously all of these things for me to think about but I don’t get to control, technically, if you put me on the field or if I’m here or not.”
With two games against the Elks next on the docket for Maier and the Stampeders, the starting job will likely be secure for at least a few weeks. However, if the new pivot stumbles against one of the league’s least competitive teams, or isn’t able to vanquish the Nathan-Rourke-less Lions in the two games that follow, expect to see Mitchell back at the helm.