‘I’m gonna go chase it’: NFL hopeful McLeod Bethel-Thompson turns doubters into motivation

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McLeod Bethel-Thompson has heard critics question the legitimacy of his NFL aspirations and is using their doubt as added motivation to achieve his dreams.

“There’s a certain member of the CFL media when I told them I felt like I could still play in the NFL, that I could start the NFL, he scoffed and was like, ‘Oh, you’ve gotta go where you’re wanted, there’s no chance.’ That’s something that digs at me. I feel like if you’re gonna tell me something’s impossible, I’m gonna go chase it,” he told the Rod Pedersen Show.

“I throw with guys in the NFL in the offseason. I know I can throw with them, I know I can play at that level. It’s a shot and an opportunity, why not? I’ve got a couple more years left at least of playing. Why not open up that door and chase the impossible if you’re going to choose this thing?”

The six-foot-four, 220-pound passer recently joined the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL instead of signing back for a sixth season with the Toronto Argonauts. He has previously indicated that being closer to family was his primary reason for choosing to sign in the USFL, though his NFL aspirations also factored into the equation.

Bethel-Thompson is currently residing in the San Francisco Bay Area while his home in Los Angeles is being remodelled. He and his wife, Chinaka Hodge, also spend time in Atlanta where production is taking place on Ironheart, an upcoming TV series she is creating for Disney.

There is very little precedent for quarterbacks signing in the NFL after spending five or more seasons in the CFL. Joe Kapp, Dieter Brock, Warren Moon, Doug Flutie, and Jeff Garcia are among the only passers to accomplish the feat, three of whom did so before turning 30.

Bethel-Thompson is already 34, though he has some NFL experience from before he first came to the CFL in 2016. He was a member of the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles after completing his collegiate career at Sacramento State, though he never dressed for a regular season NFL game.

Having played relatively few games for a quarterback of his age, Bethel-Thompson believes he has yet to hit his ceiling. He threw for 13,261 yards, 70 touchdowns, and 49 interceptions over 74 games with Toronto, helping them upset the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup this past year.

“I feel like I’m still making up game time this late in my career,” he said. “I still haven’t felt like I’ve played my best football. We won a lot of games last year but I wasn’t playing at the level that I want to be playing at and I’m still chasing that perfect game. I’m still chasing my best, which is exciting.”

Bethel-Thompson is no longer with the Argos but plans to keep a close eye on the team once the CFL season gets underway. He has also told Chad Kelly not to hesitate to reach out for guidance or support in his new role as the club’s starting quarterback.

“I’m gonna be cheering as much as anybody this season and I love so many people in that locker room, I’m going to be cheering my butt off. … I hope the Argos win a whole bunch of games and I’ll be watching every single one of them,” said Bethel-Thompson.

“It felt so good to be amongst those amazing men, help them and have them help me along that journey and go win a championship. It was so rewarding to feel like I’m not a crazy person — I knew I could build this thing and I finally got the keys and brought a championship home to the Argos who I love so very much. Hopefully I’ve left them in a better place than I found them.”