January 10, 2024

Bethel-Thompson brings championship pedigree to Elks

EDMONTON, AB – Laying a championship foundation.

That’s the goal for newly-signed Elks quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who comes to Edmonton with a Grey Cup pedigree which he believes will benefit the Elks in both the short and long terms.

“I’m happy to go to Edmonton and build something there,” Bethel-Thompson said via a virtual media conference on Monday. “With the young talent that’s on that roster, it truly could be something that’s sustainable for the long term and that’s something I feel like I’m well equipped to build.”

The 35-year-old pivot was inked to a one-year deal by General Manager and Head Coach Chris Jones on Sunday after spending the 2022 season in the United States Football League (USFL) — a move that allowed the QB to be closer to his family. It was a successful stint for the two-time Grey Cup Champion, who led the short-lived league in passing yards and the New Orleans Breakers to the second-best record in the league.

His brief departure from the CFL came off the heels of the veteran’s most successful season in pro football. In 2022, Bethel-Thompson bested all CFL signal callers with a league-leading 4,731 passing yards and guided a resurgent Toronto Argonauts squad to an 11-7 record and their 18th Grey Cup Championship. Bethel-Thompson’s work in the Double Blue helped lay the foundation for the Argonauts record setting 2023 season, where the club joined the 1989 Edmonton team as the only 16-win squads in CFL history.

During Bethel-Thompson’s time as the Argonauts starting QB, Toronto saw their record improve every season – going from a 4-14 club in 2019 to a championship team in 2022. It’s a similar trajectory the San Francisco, California native hopes to put the Elks on.

“[The] Grey Cup. That’s our focus. That’s why you start every season, to shoot for the top,” Bethel-Thompson said. “With the roster that’s been built [In Edmonton] and the coaching staff that’s already in place, we’re in position to do that.”

“One of the beautiful things about the CFL game is teams have often gone from not very good records to contenders, and you see that happening on a year in and year out basis. So that’s part of the exciting part about the CFL and with the people that are in that building in Edmonton. I think we’re positioned to do that and I’m excited to build that brick-by-brick. It takes one moment at a time and one day at a time, so I’m just focusing on what I can do today to build that long-term dream.”

The devoted Elks fanbase has been starving to see a winning tradition brought back to Commonwealth and Bethel-Thompson sees the pieces in Edmonton’s locker room to do that. The veteran cited the Elks young, talented roster and dynamic wide receivers such as Geno Lewis, Kyran Moore, and Dillon Mitchell as reasons to be excited to don the Green and Gold and “chase a ring.”

Bethel-Thompson is already in preparation mode for the upcoming season. The quarterback conducted his first Elks media availability in between workouts and training at the UCLA Bruins football facility in Los Angeles, where he spent two seasons (2006 and 2007) with the Bruins. One thing Bethel-Thompson made clear in his availability was his excitement for a CFL return.

“I want to talk about and focus on the season in front of me and how thankful I am for Edmonton investing in me and I’m thankful for the CFL. I want to treat the game right. I love the CFL game, I love the CFL culture, I love the CFL players, and I will bring my all to it and I promise to make it a better league.”