CFL Season has begun, but Toronto QB McLeod Benel-Thompson keeps his dream alive

In an NFL practice, identities are not important. It's just a group if quarterbacks throwing their footballs at receivers scattered all over the field in unison. It was only a few moments in those 13 distinct tenures, with over a dozen teams. McLeod Bethel-Thompson An elite NFL quarterback

He received the ball differently than his teammates, such as Colin Kaepernick from San Francisco. Tom Brady New England, Sam Bradford in Philadelphia. It glided through the air with an unmatched level of zip, distance, and sound. It might amaze observers who see it at 6 feet 4 inches and 236 lbs.

Is that not a starter?

Bethel Thompson was able to flip a football at 76 yards with his big arm. It allowed him to meet 20% of the NFL's teams. He says with irony that he regretted it. In 2017, his last minicamp tryout was a failure with the Jets. He had to make a decision: either retire or accept an invitation to join the Toronto Argonauts. He chose the latter. That's when Bethel Thompson learned the passing skills that he needed in order to pair that arm with his other arm. The CFL's 2022 season will open this week in Montreal vs. Calgary (9 p.m. ET). He'll continue to be the Argonauts' main starter ET Thursday, ESPN+

Bethel Thompson said that she feels like she has “self-destructed” herself out of the NFL. She spoke to Bethel Thompson by phone recently. “No one ever told my I couldn’t play, talent-wise. I was in a life crisis and not emotionally ready to face it.

“Coming here was to kinda resurrect my football playing identity.”

Neither the Elias Sports Bureau nor ESPN Stats & Information tracks player movement among leagues, but there haven't been many quarterbacks as well-traveled as Bethel-Thompson. He played college football at UCLA and Sacramento State. In 2011, he was not drafted by the NFL and was still a bit unknown to the league. He made stops in the Arena League and United Football League. His NFL career included stints with several teams, including the 49ers Vikings Dolphins Dolphins Dolphins Eagles and Eagles. He also had a brief stint with the Patriots. He remained sharp in The Spring League after the CFL cancelled its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2015, he was worried that his career would end when he was released by the Dolphins after he had thrown four interceptions and 34 passes during three preseason matches. He was out of eligibility for the NFL's practice squad rules and his opportunity to play with the Eagles in 2016 gave him no chance of beating starters. Carson Wentz or veteran backup Chase Daniel.

He was not promoted beyond the third position on the depth chart, and he never played in any regular-season games. In his free time, he buried himself in the weight-room, doing squat sets that were meant for other positions. Bethel Thompson sought other opinions to help him feel better. He said that one stood out. A third party, years after he was released from the Vikings, gave him a scathing assessment by a Minnesota assistant coach. He was considered a basketball player who could win the dunk contest, but couldn't play 5-on-5.

Bethel Thompson said, “I threw it too hard.” “I wish someone had said that to me at the time. I would have worked hard on it.” Now, I tell these stories to as many young quarterbacks and strong-armed as possible. You begin to build it up, and you say, “This is my ticket,” this is the way that I'm going. I can defeat everyone. Let me prove it to them. It's almost that your greatest strength can also be your biggest weakness. It's almost like you start to rely on it, and then you stop being a passer.

You must also develop other aspects of your game. It can be developed on the go. You can develop it from different angles. You can change the speed. Like a great pitcher. That was something I didn't know. I was just going ahead and doing more squats each day, throwing the ball harder.

Bethel Thompson has stopped doing the heavy squats since arriving in Canada. He has lost 16 pounds to improve movement from his pocket. He was open to adapting to the CFL over the long-term process that American quarterbacks usually go through.

Certain parts of the CFL were designed for players of his skill level. CFL quarterbacks used to be required to throw the ball from 45 yards away to complete a 5-yard outside pass, until a recent field hash mark change. Learning how to read a 12-man defense is another aspect of the Canadian game that takes time.

Bethel Thompson was on the sidelines for most of 2017, but he got eight starts in 2018 as well as 13 in 2019. He then took over full-time in 2021 when the CFL resumed playing. At 34 years old, he led the Argonauts in the Eastern Final. Now, the team is counting on his newly-trained arm to win the Grey Cup.

Ryan Dinwiddie, coach, said that he's played in many places down south and has bounced around to several systems. It helps him. He has improved from his first year. This year, he is going to be the one who takes over. He's much more comfortable at training camp.

The Argonauts are, naturally, betting on their future. Another NFL rookie. Chad KellyCanadian observers have noticed that he has impressed many and will likely be Bethel Thompson’s backup. Dinwiddie stated that “Mac is our guy right now”, but Kelly made it clear that he has the potential to be a future starter.

Bethel Thompson isn't ruling out a return to the NFL. He said, “Every offseason I throw alongside NFL guys and still haven't met one who can outthrow my” — but he also knows that the CFL represents his best and only chance to become the player he's always dreamed he could be.

“The transition to come here, to humble yourselves, to be rookie again,” he stated. “I don't say this with an ego, vindictively, or with an ego, but many quarterbacks in the NFL could not do it. It's too difficult. … I know I can still hang. [in the NFL] If you have the chance, do so if it is necessary.

“But here, this is about me becoming my best selves and playing that one game where it feels like I am me. It was truly me. It's still not enough.

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