‘We’re going to make the CFL fun to watch again’: Bo Levi Mitchell brings gunslinging swagger to Ticats

Courtesy: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Bo Levi Mitchell is aiming to post big numbers with his new team fresh off signing a three-year contract extension with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“Getting to talk to (offensive coordinator) Tommy (Condell), he’s on the same page that I am. We want to bring back some things in this league and I’m not gonna obviously give y’all everything but we’re gonna make CFL fun to watch again,” Mitchell told the media in Hamilton.

“Tommy’s got a special mind. I’m looking for houses right now and he’s trying to kick people out of their houses next to him so I can live next to him so I can just walk over for film. So trust me, he’s in the bag and he’s itching, he’s got a computer in the room right now ready for me to leave this room and start talking.”

The coaching staff in Hamilton was a huge draw for Mitchell, whose exclusive negotiating rights were acquired via trade from the Calgary Stampeders in November. Though he previously spoke about wanting to test free agency next month, the Ticats were a team he was hoping to play for after it became clear he would be leaving Cowtown this winter.

“I wanted to have the opportunity to talk with Hamilton, so when [Stampeders’ president John Hufnagel] decided to trade my rights to Hamilton, I was already pretty ecstatic about it because it was the team that I kind of had at the top of my list. Obviously, there was considerations elsewhere but those don’t need to be talked about because it never went that way,” Mitchell said.

“Once I had the opportunity to get into this building and meet these guys and see the facilities and the people that are in this room, I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

Mitchell could have signed an extension earlier but wanted to ensure that head coach and president of football operations Orlondo Steinauer, offensive coordinator Tommy Condell, and defensive coordinator Mark Washington remained with the organization. With the Ticats front office settled for another season, the veteran passer felt comfortable signing his deal through 2025.

“It had a lot to do with the fact of making sure that the black and gold still had those three guys at the top because I know those other two guys deserve some head coaching jobs and are probably going to get some here pretty soon. But I wanted to make sure the coaching staff was going to be intact and it allows players to want to be here and I think that gives us the best opportunity to win,” Mitchell said.

The 32-year-old stated that assistant general manager Spencer Zimmerman presented figures to him illustrating what percentage of the salary cap was being paid to the starting quarterback of each of the last five Grey Cup winning teams. Mitchell felt comfortable signing for over $500,000 per season, after analyzing the data.

“I’ve never really been too much about the money. The money for me is I want to be paid fairly — right for my position — but I’ve never asked to be top paid yet in the league. It’s hard to win that way,” he said. “Free agency, it wasn’t about going there and trying to get people to bid up on me and be an auction price.”

Calgary hosted only one Grey Cup during Mitchell’s tenure with the Stampeders, which took place in 2019. The Stamps finished the regular season with a 12-6 record and were the league’s defending champions but fell short of appearing in the game, losing the West Semi-Final to the eventual champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Mitchell hasn’t forgotten the disappointment of missing out on a chance to play in that game in front of hometown fans. With this year’s Grey Cup set to take place at Tim Horton Field in Hamilton, he has a chance to not only end a 23-year championship drought — the longest in the CFL — but win a Grey Cup on his team’s home field for the first time.

“I know what that feeling is like and I don’t want to ever be a part of it again. There’s a team that obviously feels that way every single year not being able to be in it. I want to be a reason that the fans want to be there, drive the season tickets up and get more fans in the stands and hopefully fill the stadium with black and gold on that day to make it a special one, so that if we do bring that cup back here, it makes it all the more merry being at home,” Mitchell said.

“Legacy is a big one for me, so to possibly be a guy that can help bring the Grey Cup back into this building, it would mean a lot.”

The native of Katy, Texas already has a Hall of Fame-calibre resume. He has thrown for over 30,000 yards, almost 200 touchdowns, won a pair of Grey Cups and Most Outstanding Player awards. Despite the possibility of pursuing a career in the media someday, he never considered ending his playing career and remains committed to winning on the field.

“I don’t think my wife would look at me the same if I just walked away from the game like that. I’ll never end anything on a loss and to me, that’s a loss the way that ended. I don’t look forward to ending my career, it’s not something that I’m trying to rush to do and that’s just not the way I’m gonna let my career play out,” he said.

“I think there’s a lot of things that I haven’t done in this league. I’ve never won a Grey Cup with a new team, I’ve never won a Grey Cup at home, never had the opportunity to work with Orlondo Steinauer and those are things that that I’ve been looking forward to and I want to check off my list and there’s more. There’s things at the end of my career that I want to do and those numbers are far away, so I’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.