McLeod Bethel-Thompson
refer to caption
Bethel-Thompson with the Argonauts in 2022
No. 14 – Edmonton Elks
Personal information
Born: (1988-07-03) July 3, 1988 (age 35)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school:Balboa (San Francisco, California)
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career USFL statistics as of Week 8, 2023
Passing completions:188
Passing attempts:289
Passing yards:2,119
Passer rating:87.8
Career CFL statistics
Passing completions:1,125
Passing attempts:1,683
Passing yards:13,265
Passer rating:92.4
Player stats at · PFR ·

McLeod John Baltazar Bethel-Thompson[1] (born July 3, 1988) is an American professional football quarterback for the Edmonton Elks of the Canadian Football League (CFL). He was a member of the Toronto Argonauts, winning two Grey Cup championships with the team: one as a back-up quarterback in 2017, another as the team's starter in 2022. He played college football at UCLA and Sacramento State. He is the grandson of the 1948 Olympic shot put champion Wilbur 'Moose' Thompson. Bethel-Thompson is a journeyman quarterback having been a member of five different NFL teams, three CFL teams, and one team in the Arena Football League (AFL), United Football League (UFL), and United States Football League (USFL).

Early years

Bethel-Thompson graduated from San Francisco's Balboa High School in 2006, where he played football, basketball, and baseball. He was the City's Football Player of the Year in 2006[2] and its Back of the Year in 2005.[3] In 2004 and 2005, he led his team to the Turkey Bowl, the City's annual championship, held on Thanksgiving Day in Kezar Stadium.

College career

Bethel-Thompson with the UCLA Bruins in 2007

After a redshirt year at UCLA in 2006, Bethel-Thompson shared the Bruins' quarterback duties in the 2007 season. He started in the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl where the Bruins lost to BYU.[4] Bethel-Thompson saw action in five games for UCLA in 2007, completing 23 of 55 passes for 293 yards, with one touchdown and five interceptions.

Bethel-Thompson played at Sacramento State from 2008 to 2010. In three seasons at Sacramento State, Bethel-Thompson appeared in 12 games, completing 113 of 197 passes for 1,322 yards, with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.


Year Team Passing Rushing
Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A TD Int Rtg Att Yds Avg TD
2007 UCLA 23 55 41.8 293 5.3 1 5 74.4 15 −32 −2.1 0
2008 Sacramento State 28 49 57.1 415 8.5 2 1 137.7 16 33 2.1 1
2009 Sacramento State 64 110 58.2 746 6.8 4 5 118.1 25 1 0.0 1
2010 Sacramento State 21 38 55.3 161 4.2 1 2 89.0 6 −5 −0.8 0
Career 136 252 54.0 1,615 6.4 8 13 108.0 62 −3 0.0 2


Professional career

San Jose SaberCats

After going undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft, Bethel-Thompson joined the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League. During three games played, Bethel-Thompson completed 20 out of 43 passes for 220 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception, as well as 2 rushes for 24 yards.[6]

San Francisco 49ers (first stint)

Bethel-Thompson played for the San Francisco 49ers for a short time, and was expected to be the third-string quarterback for the 49ers after Josh McCown was cut, but was later cut himself.[7]

Sacramento Mountain Lions

On September 3, 2011, Bethel-Thompson signed with the Sacramento Mountain Lions. Bethel-Thompson competed with Jordan Palmer, former Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn, and Trevor Harris for the starting job. Bethel-Thompson ended up starting the last two games at quarterback over Colburn. Palmer was released and Harris signed with the Orlando Predators.

Miami Dolphins (first stint)

Later in 2011, Bethel-Thompson signed to the Miami Dolphins practice squad.[8]

Minnesota Vikings (first stint)

Bethel-Thompson signed a future contract with the Minnesota Vikings on January 13, 2012. He was named to the 53-man active roster just before the start of the 2012 regular season after beating out veteran Sage Rosenfels for the third-string quarterback job.[9] He was released on October 8, 2013, when the Vikings signed Josh Freeman.[10]

San Francisco 49ers (second stint)

Bethel-Thompson was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco 49ers from the Minnesota Vikings on October 9, 2013.[11] He was put on waivers by the 49ers on November 26, 2013, then signed to the practice squad a day later. He was signed to a reserve/future deal and was activated to the active roster on January 23, 2014.[12] The 49ers waived Bethel-Thompson on August 25, 2014.[13]

New England Patriots

Bethel-Thompson was signed to the New England Patriots practice squad on August 31, 2014.[14] He was released by the Patriots on September 9, 2014.[15]

Minnesota Vikings (second stint)

Bethel-Thompson was signed by the Vikings on September 22, 2014, to the Vikings' practice squad. The signing came in part due to the injury to Matt Cassel, leaving the Vikings with only two healthy quarterbacks on the roster, in Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder. After Bridgewater's week 4 injury, Chandler Harnish was signed to the practice squad and eventually the active roster to back up Ponder in Week 5 against the Green Bay Packers, leaving Bethel-Thompson on the practice squad. He was released from the team on October 7, 2014.[16]

Miami Dolphins (second stint)

On October 15, 2014, Bethel-Thompson was signed to the Miami Dolphins' practice squad.[17] He was released on September 5, 2015, as part of the Dolphins' final roster cuts.[18] On September 6, 2015, Bethel-Thompson was signed to the Miami Dolphins' practice squad.[19] On September 9, 2015, he was released by the Dolphins.[20]

San Francisco 49ers (third stint)

On November 23, 2015, Bethel-Thompson was signed to the 49ers' practice squad.[21]

Philadelphia Eagles

On February 18, 2016, Bethel-Thompson was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles.[22] On May 17, 2016, Bethel-Thompson was released by Eagles.[23] He was re-signed by the team on July 24, 2016.[24] On September 3, 2016, he was released by the Eagles.[25]

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Bethel-Thompson was signed to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' practice roster on September 20, 2016.[26] He was released by the team on October 19, 2016.[27]

Toronto Argonauts

Bethel-Thompson before his first career CFL start on August 2, 2018.

In April 2017, Bethel-Thompson played with a startup developmental minor league, The Spring League. Players were scouted by numerous NFL and CFL teams during the practices and two games played, and Bethel-Thompson earned an invite to workout at a minicamp for the New York Jets.[28] He was not offered a contract following the Jets minicamp, and on May 23, 2017, Bethel-Thompson signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.[29] During the 2 game preseason, Bethel-Thompson started at quarterback in one game, and completed 5 passes out of 13 attempts, throwing for 78 yards, and rushing for 1 yard for a first down on a quarterback sneak. Following the release of CFL veteran Drew Willy, Bethel-Thompson made the Argonauts' roster as the 4th quarterback.[30] It was an irregular decision given that the Argonauts elected to keep an additional quarterback on their practice roster, giving them a total of 5 quarterbacks, whereas most CFL teams keep only the required 3 quarterbacks as part of their active roster. On June 24, Bethel-Thompson was placed on the 6-game injured list, and received several extensions. Coming off the injured list after 13 weeks, Bethel-Thompson made his debut on September 23, backing up Argos starter, and fellow Sacramento State alumni Ricky Ray.[31] Bethel-Thompson entered the game during garbage time, and completed his only pass attempt for 8 yards in the 33–19 victory over the Montreal Alouettes. After going 2/2 for 10 yards during the regular season, Bethel-Thompson was the 2nd string QB[32] as the Argonauts won the 105th Grey Cup over the Calgary Stampeders.

Bethel-Thompson was named the Argos' starting quarterback in Week 8 of the 2018 season after Ricky Ray was out for the season with a neck injury and backup quarterback James Franklin was ineffective in his first four starts.[33] In his first CFL start Bethel-Thompson and the Argos overcame a 24-point deficit to defeat the Ottawa Redblacks 42–41, with Bethel-Thompson completing a 23-yard pass to Armanti Edwards for the game winning score with one second left in the game.[34] After beating the Lions the following week Bethel-Thompson would go on to start and lose the next six games, resulting in the Argos being eliminated from playoff contention. James Franklin was announced as the team's Week 18 starter.[35]

Bethel-Thompson began the 2019 season as the Argos' backup quarterback behind James Franklin. However, Bethel-Thompson was announced the starting quarterback after Franklin was placed on the six-game injured reserve list following the team's Week 3 loss.[36] Bethel-Thompson remained the Argos starting quarterback until Week 16 as the team fell to a record of 2–10: At which time the team announced James Franklin as the starting quarterback.[37] Nevertheless, Bethel-Thompson was promoted to starting quarterback again for the team's Week 18 match against the Redblacks after the team lost both matches with Franklin at the helm.[38] All four wins by the 2019 Argos came with Bethel-Thompson starting at quarterback, and by the end of the season, Bethel-Thompson's career year had produced a CFL best 26 touchdown passes.

During his first three years in the CFL, Bethel-Thompson had also been working toward his master's degree in education from UC Berkeley. The day before he defended his thesis, Bethel-Thompson signed an extension with Toronto.[39]

After the CFL cancelled the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bethel-Thompson chose to opt-out of his contract with the Argonauts on August 25, 2020.[40]

Bethel-Thompson was selected by the Aviators of The Spring League during its player selection draft on October 12, 2020.[41] In three games, he threw for nearly 700 yards and five touchdowns before a COVID outbreak caused the remaining games to be cancelled and the final rescheduled. While the Aviators under Bethel-Thompson earned a championship appearance, he declined to attend the game to prepare for “opportunities in more sustainable leagues with more resources available to the players.”[42] Brian Woods, CEO of The Spring League, stated that Bethel-Thompson did not play due to injury, which was vehemently denied by Bethel-Thompson, who felt the attack on his character by Woods was, "disconcerting".[42]

Despite signing Nick Arbuckle to a free agent deal, the Argos brought back Bethel-Thompson as quarterback depth right before training camp.[43] Due to Arbuckle dealing with a hamstring injury, Bethel-Thompson began the season as the Argos pivot.[44] Bethel-Thompson started the first two games of the season, before being replaced by Arbuckle who started the next four games in the middle of the season.[45] Bethel-Thompson was reinstated as the team's starting quarterback in Week 8 and confirmed again in Week 10 after the team's second bye week.[46][47] On October 26, 2021, Arbuckle was traded to the Edmonton Elks, signaling the Argos' confidence in Bethel-Thompson for the remainder of the season.[48] McLeod Bethel-Thompson and the Argos earned a first round bye but were defeated in the Eastern Division Final by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Following the game, Bethel-Thompson made inappropriate on-field contact with a cameraperson, for which he later apologized.[49] He was subsequently fined by the league for his actions.[50] On January 30, 2022, Bethel-Thompson and the Argos agreed to a one-year contract extension.[51]

In 2022, McLeod Bethel-Thompson began the 2022 season as the Argos' starting quarterback, with Chad Kelly serving as backup.[52] Bethel-Thompson started 17 regular season games during the season, sitting out the final game as the club had already secured the first seed in the East Division with a record of 11-7. Bethel-Thompson led the league in pass completions, attempts and passing yards. In the playoffs, he led the Argos past the Montreal Alouettes 34–27, advancing to the Grey Cup final on November 20, 2022.[53] Bethel-Thompson sustained a hand injury in the 4th quarter was replaced by back-up Chad Kelly. The Argos earned a one point victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Bethel-Thompson's second overall Grey Cup and first as a starting quarterback.[54]

Following the conclusion of the season there was mounting speculation that McLeod Bethel-Thompson would consider retirement from professional football.[55] In late November 2022, he underwent surgery on the thumb of his throwing hand after suffering an injury in the 109th Grey Cup.[56] In early February he revealed that he was intending to play football in 2023, and if he were to return to the CFL he would only consider playing for the Argos.[57] On February 14, 2023, Bethel-Thompson became a free agent.[58]

New Orleans Breakers

On February 22, 2023, Bethel-Thompson signed with the New Orleans Breakers of the United States Football League (USFL).[59][60] Bethel-Thompson started all 10 regular seasons games for the Breakers, and was the leading passer in the USFL with 2,433 yards. With a record of 7 wins and 3 losses, the Breakers earned a playoff berth, but for the second consecutive season were eliminated by the eventual Champions, the Birmingham Stallions. He was released after the season on July 11, 2023.[61]

Edmonton Elks

On January 7, 2024, it was announced that Bethel-Thompson had signed with the Edmonton Elks.[62]


CFL statistics
Year Team Games Passing Rushing
GP GS Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A TD Int Rtg Att Yds Avg TD
2017 TOR 6 0 2 2 100.0 10 5.0 0 0 87.5 0 0 0.0 0
2018 TOR 18 8 198 303 65.3 2,193 7.2 9 10 82.9 22 116 5.3 1
2019 TOR 18 13 335 493 67.9 4,024 8.2 26 13 105.4 26 160 6.2 1
2020 TOR Season cancelled
2021 TOR 14 9 203 306 66.3 2,303 7.5 12 11 86.8 10 71 7.1 0
2022 TOR 18 17 387 579 66.8 4,731 8.2 23 15 94.3 35 166 4.7 0
Career 74 47 1,125 1,683 66.8 13,261 7.9 70 49 92.4 93 513 5.5 2
USFL statistics
Year Team Games Passing Rushing
GP GS Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A TD Int Rtg Att Yds Avg TD
2023 NO 10 10 220 336 65.5 2,433 7.2 14 8 90.8 17 46 2.7 0

Personal life

Bethel-Thompson is the grandson of the 1948 Olympic shot-put champion Wilbur 'Moose' Thompson.[63] He is also of Scottish and Salvadoran descent through his grandmother. Bethel-Thompson is married to Chinaka Hodge, a poet and writer for theatre, film, and music.[64]


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