Cauz: The top story of 2024? It’s Tre Ford and MBT

Everyone reading this has their own personal list of the top stories for the 2024 season. I imagine it starts with the most pressing issues for your own personal team and then branches out to the micro and macro football conversations going on throughout Canada.

My list ranges from the hyper local about what is the best way to get to BMO Field (Hint: not driving) to my Grey Cup prediction and everything in between. But there is one story that rises above all others that has my attention: the Edmonton Elks; quarterbacks. All eyes are on McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Tre Ford.

Like Costco or your local Mandarin restaurant, this quarterback room has everything. On the narrative side you have the young, exciting quarterback looking to build on his impressive sophomore season. On the other end of the room, you have the veteran gun slinger looking for one more shot at glory. Think about how many Hollywood sports movies look just like Ford vs. Thompson. It should be noted that there is no personal animosity between these two men. Judging by the quotes and the lack of spicy comments, both are on the same page and acting like professionals. Their lack of public frustration doesn’t mean this story is devoid of drama.

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Think of the stakes involved with these two. Ford has gone from winning the Hec Crighton Trophy in 2022 to being the only quarterback who could string together any wins for the Elks in 2024. Ford went 4-6 as a starter for an organization that went 4-14. By the conventional standards of quarterback growth, now would be the time Elks’ general manager and head coach Chris Jones and the team would have given their third-year starter the keys to the team. It would make sense if the highest drafted quarterback since 1980 was a bit taken aback by the team signing Bethel-Thompson.

Speaking of the veteran, how can you not root for someone who loves this game as much as MBT does? For the past 13 years he has played in just about every league out there from the San Jose SabreCats to the Minnesota Vikings to now being in Edmonton. I’m not sure which is higher, the number of letters in his full name or the number of professional team’s he has been a part of. But I’m always going to be a sucker for a pro who has accomplished it all in one league but is back to try and hit those same highs again. That level of competitiveness is why we’re all sports fans.

The next thing is the contrast of styles. Yes, Bethel-Thompson can use his legs to buy time in the pocket and Ford took a big leap from his rookie year as a pure passer, but you will be hard-pressed to find two quarterbacks on the same team that can beat their opponent in such different ways.


I remember Ford spinning out of trouble and buying himself nearly seven seconds to hit a wide-open Eugene Lewis for a 30-yard touchdown. In his last year with the Argonauts, Bethel-Thompson threw the ball 40 times in a late season win over the BC Lions. Only twice in 2023 did Ford break 30 pass attempts in a game and I’m fairly sure MBT will NOT post 622 yards rushing while averaging 9.4 yards a carry. Imagine being a defensive coordinator trying to put together a comprehensive gameplan to slow down these two quarterbacks.

The next ingredient in this delightful bouillabaisse of a QB tandem is the individual stirring the stew, coach Jones! This is not the first time he has faced this dilemma. Back in 2017 as the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ head coach he was juggling between veteran American quarterback Kevin Glenn and the young up-and-coming National Brandon Bridge.

Bridge didn’t have spectacular passing numbers but did help the team win a couple games in the regular season. Then came the Eastern Final against the Argonauts that saw Glenn throw three first half interceptions. Bridge made things interesting in the second half with 141 yards and one touchdown, but it wasn’t enough as Toronto won 25-21.

From an organizational standpoint there is so much on the line this year in Edmonton. The Elks are looking to shed their losing ways. As someone who works in media, I am sensitive to stories of mass layoffs, but we also understand the cruel realities of pro sports. Edmonton has just 11 wins in the last three years and their last playoff victory was half a decade ago. Some strong quarterbacking play would go a long way for this organization.

The final note is all about what it says on Ford’s passport.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go on a rant about the benefits and perils of nationalism, rather this is about just how unique Ford is. Nathan Rourke captured our attention because first of how elite he is throwing a football to any spot on the field and second the fact that he’s Canadian.

It doesn’t matter the sport, all fans are attracted to something we haven’t seen before so getting to see a Canadian in the Canadian Football League be the best player at the most important position was thrilling no matter which team you rooted for.

With Ford there is also the element that he played his college ball close by as a member of the Waterloo Warriors. So not only does his passport say “Canadian” but he learned how to play the game right here in Ontario. Now imagine if he can take that incredible leap from potential star to an actual one. If that happens, we are entering uncharted territory for this generation of football fans. That’s an easy story to get behind, and it could start with these two differently-talented quarterbacks working together this year.

Like I said, this is my No. 1 story of the 2024 season. I think it’s easy to see why.

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