June 7, 2024

After a Long, Long Wait Bo Levi Mitchell Has Touched Down in Calgary

May 25, 2024; Hamilton, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa REDBLACKS defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 31-22 in pre-season at Tim Hortons Field. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski

All Bo, all the time.

Bo Levi Mitchell has been business-only since the Ticats arrived in Calgary very late Wednesday night, concentrating on getting his team off on the right foot in Friday night’s season opener at McMahon Stadium.

He says that after tomorrow night’s game, he is sure enough going to spend time in happy, and emotional, reunions with friends and supporters.

But when you’ve played more than a decade of a Hall of Fame career in a city, won a couple of Grey Cups and a couple of CFL Most Outstanding Player Awards, you are not incognito when you come back for the first time in an opponents’ uniform.

Today at the pre-game interviews at McMahon he was hugged by everybody who worked there. The current Stampeders had already finished their walkthrough and left the stadium, but former Stamps star Stu Laird, who retired well before Mitchell arrived from the U.S. college big time, dropped around partly to see Mitchell. He said the crowd will greet him warmly and loudly tomorrow night, but would quickly revert to cheering for their favourite uniform, not his.

All the Calgary news media of course wondered how Bo felt about his return.

“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some extra motivation but what I’ve said is that if this was the fourth or fifth game of the season, I think I would think of that aspect a bit more,” Mitchell answered. “But now it’s just trying to get us off to a hot start; get off to 1-0 and just run this offence and be healthy, and everything I didn’t have last year.”

Mitchell said he’s very competitive with Jake Maier, the quarterback who replaced him two years ago, but that they’re also close friends so there’s a little motivation in that personal parlay. But he emphasized that just because he played against the Calgary defence in practice three or four days a week for so many years doesn’t give either him or the Stamps, a specific advantage.

“No. It’s chess,” he explained. “I know damn near every one of their coverages and every one of their defensive calls and half of their signals, probably, but I’m sure they’ve changed some of those. They know what I’m good at, they know where I like to put the ball. They know my weaknesses.

“But I also know what Dave (Dickenson, Calgary head coach) thinks of my weaknesses, so we work on those things. It’ll be a fun chess match, but it’s not Calgary versus Bo. We’ve got an entire offence, we’ve got a lot of great players and they have to stop a lot of great guys.” 

As well as it being the return of Mitchell to Calgary, it’s also Scott Milanovich’s first official game as the 27th head coach of the Tiger-Cats, another chance for the Ticats to secure a rare opening day win and it’s Ticat Nation’s, and the national television audience’s, first chance to see the legion of changes the club made this year. At least seven Ticats will be playing in their first CFL game and as many as seven players are starting on each side of the ball in the first game of the new season who did not start in the closing game of last year’s season.

You can catch more on all of those topics, plus more information on the latest episode of Ticats Today.