TORONTO — Over the last half-decade, there’s been almost no one as effective as Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.
The veteran signal-caller has racked up accolades and hardware since his arrival in the CFL, and it looks as though he’s just getting started in that regard.
On the latest episode of The Waggle presented by Sport Clips, Mitchell joined Davis Sanchez and Donnovan Bennett to discuss his decision to stay in Calgary, his confidence, and the tight race in the West Division.
Episode 180: The Pinball era begins + 1-on-1 with Bo
EPISODE OVERVIEW: What will the Argonauts look like with Pinball at the helm? And, it’s a fight to the finish in the West — who’s coming out on top? Plus, Bo Levi Mitchell stops by to talk hometown sports, the NFL and more.
EPISODE RUNDOWN: Pinball at the helm (1:15); Morley Scott interview (16:15); Who’s going to win the West? (32:30); SJ reaches 10K (39:00); Mike Reilly injury (45:15); Objectionable conduct (48:15); Bowman essay (1:00:30); Bo Levi Mitchell interview (1:03:00)
“I wasn’t always the most talented guy out there. I didn’t really start throwing a spiral until my junior year of high school,” Mitchell said. “You’re learning your body and learning the game itself and learning your place in the game. Plays have to be made but really, its coaches that encourage you and tell you that you can be that guy.”
Mitchell is one of the most recognizable faces in all of the CFL, and after signing with the Stampeders as an undrafted free agent back in 2012, he quickly made his way from backup to arguably the best quarterback in the league.
Over his now eight-year CFL career, the 29-year-old has accumulated 27,304 yards and 164 yards while completing nearly 65 percent of his passes in 113 games.
Mitchell captured his second CFL Most Outstanding Player award and Grey Cup while adding championship game MVP to his mantle in 2019. Mitchell’s contract was up with the Stamps and he opted to work out for several NFL teams. He reportedly had showings with eight teams, including the Bills, Broncos, Giants, Jaguars, and Vikings.
“I got a lot of positive phone calls and a couple negative,” Mitchell said. “As far as ‘we loved his talent on the field and talking to him about football, but it kind of seems like he could be a trouble maker in the locker room.’ A couple of teams asked me the same question and got the exact same answer.
“I wasn’t leaving Canada and the CFL just to say I played in the NFL. I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to go compete for a spot.”
While the NFL is the goal for every player — including one that hails from a football hotbed like Texas — the right opportunity didn’t present itself with any of the teams Mitchell talked to.
“I’ve got three brothers and we always competed playing Madden and playing backyard football and whatnot,” he said. “You all have that dream and I wasn’t going to let my brothers down and tell them I was throwing that dream away just for complacency.
“I needed to see somebody that believed in me and wanted me to come be who I was, not change to be who they wanted me to be.”
He decided to stay in his second home and sign with the Stamps. This season started off as usual for the pivot, as he completed 23 passes and had 250-plus yards and at least one passing touchdown in his first two starts of 2019. However, he was placed on the six-game injured list following the Stamps’ Week 3 game against the BC Lions after suffering a pectoral injury.
Following his initial stint on the six-game, he was activated, but after a setback, he was placed back on the injured list. He officially made his return in Week 12 against the Edmonton Eskimos. The Stamps have returned to their usual form since getting Mitchell back under centre. The team has won six of its last seven games and currently sits first in the West Division standings.
The team has its swagger back, and Mitchell is a big part of that. He’s the leader of the locker room and he carries himself with a lot of confidence, regardless of the situation.
“Once I started playing great at a younger age, I started to realize ‘how do I capture my locker room and our team and help try to take us to another level?'” he said. “I think confidence is almost what we use sometimes as a mask to hide nerves or whatever it might be.
“But the majority of the time, it’s gotta be real because your teammates can see through the bulls—. They know if it’s fake; They know if it’s a facade. You’ve gotta be confident and show why you’re confident.”
Mitchell said that this was the closest he can remember the West race being since he’s been in the league.
In a race between the Stamps and Riders to capture the West Division crown, Calgary has snatched wins from both Saskatchewan and Winnipeg in its past two outings. With the margin for error being so low, the defending Grey Cup champions continue to bring the same energy to every game. However, nothing is guaranteed, something that Mitchell and the team are aware of heading into their final games of the regular season.
“Even right now, we’re still talking about the fact that everyone was pretty happy about winning that game last week. I think you saw a lot of guys disappointed in Sask, almost thinking like they’ve already lost the West Division and we already won it. But in reality, we could lose this week, be in second, lose next week, be in third and go into the playoffs without a home playoff game.
“I think it’ll go down to the very last game and I don’t think you’ll be able to pick out 100 percent who’s going to win the West and the Western Final. It’s going to be a battle.”