Bo Levi Mitchell excited for Calgary return but holds ‘no ill feelings’ towards Stampeders

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography

Bo Levi Mitchell is making his long-anticipated return to Calgary this week as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats open their regular season at McMahon Stadium, though he doesn’t feel any animosity towards his former club.

“I’m pretty excited, it’s something I wanted to happen last year but the year of suspense I guess makes it just a little bit bigger,” Mitchell told the media in Hamilton. “I have no ill feelings about anything that happened over there, so, if anything, I’m just excited to go play in front of the fans in a city I’ve played in a lot and I’m very familiar with. I’m just ready to go get my first win there.”

The 34-year-old native of Katy, Texas spent 10 seasons with the Stampeders, winning two Grey Cups and twice being named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player. He was replaced as the team’s starting quarterback at the midway point of the 2022 season by Jake Maier, who remains the No. 1 passer in Cowtown, before being traded to Hamilton immediately after the Stampeders were eliminated from the playoffs.

There didn’t appear to be any hard feelings between Mitchell and the Stampeders near the end of his tenure with the club as he and Dave Dickenson, who remains the head coach and general manager in Calgary, expressed mutual interest in coaching together someday. For now, the three-time West Division all-star is laser-focused on Friday’s game, as he doesn’t plan to spend any time socializing during the trip.

“The people that know me know that pregame, they’re not talking to me. My family will be there, I’ve got best friends and buddies there — lifelong friends — and they know they’ll see me on the field, then they can see me after the game, but I’m not one to go get dinners before the game with other people,” said Mitchell.

“I’m going out with [backup quarterback Taylor Powell] to get dinner. We’re gonna grab dinner, come back to the room and start studying. I’m sure there’s gonna be some excitement — I’m going to have a bunch of people there and everything — but I’m just looking forward to getting out there, first game under (new head coach) Scott (Milanovich) and building that trust in him and running the offence the right way.”

Milanovich doesn’t appear concerned about Mitchell losing focus this week, citing his many years of experience.

“Bo’s a veteran. I’m sure a lot will be made of it this week, but we’re glad to have him in black and gold and he’s happy to be here,” said Milanovich. “I think if this would have happened last year, maybe it would have been a bigger deal, but he’s already been here a year, so I don’t really expect anything to change.”

Hamilton didn’t play at McMahon Stadium this past season as the CFL had a more regionally-oriented schedule, continuing a trend that started coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The league reversed this trend in 2024, returning to a balanced schedule that sees every team play every other team at least two times, with a minimum of one home game and one road game.

Mitchell didn’t play in the only meeting between the Stampeders and Tiger-Cats last season as Matthew Shiltz, who is now the backup in Calgary, threw for 225 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception to lead Hamilton to a 22-15 victory. Maier completed 26-of-44 pass attempts for 246 yards in the loss.

The future Canadian Football Hall of Famer will be spending extra time at his old stomping grounds this week as the Ticats will travel to Calgary after practice on Wednesday, two days before Friday’s game gets underway. This is a departure from normal routine as CFL teams generally travel the day before away games take place.

“Leaving a day early gives you a better opportunity to continue the bonding that happened at training camp,” said Milanovich. “Sometimes it’s better to go on the road and just have a lot less external influences on guys in a time when they’re trying to find housing and getting their families up here, so going away and spending a couple nights in a hotel and it being quiet and focused, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-0) will visit the Calgary Stampeders (0-0) at McMahon Stadium on Friday, June 7 with kickoff slated for 9:00 p.m. EDT.