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Pats' QB Bishop makes move to another Galaxy

By Bill Burt

The Philadelphia Eagle-Tribune - Friday, February 16, 2001

The brochures of Frankfurt, Germany's hot spots and tourist traps arrived in Michael Bishop's mail box the other day.  After about 30 seconds of reviewing Frankfurt's famed rebuilt museum district, nearly destroyed during Hitler's reign, they were put back into their white envelope and tossed onto the nearby table.  The New England Patriots reserve quarterback, bound for NFL Europe's Frankfurt Galaxy at the end of March, isn't interested in history. He's only worried about the future, particularly his future in the National Football League which has taken an unexpected detour about 5,000 miles away.  Bishop is going to Frankfurt to be a quarterback again, something he says he hasn't done, at least on his terms, since Kansas State's bowl game two Januarys ago.

This one-play-a-month experiment in Foxboro last fall and winter was a failure. Watching John Friesz get the call when Bledsoe was hurt against Buffalo, a disappointing 13-10 loss, was equally as frustrating. "I think I would have been able to help win that game," says Bishop, of the Nov. 5th loss to the Bills. "It was tough watching from the sidelines. I really wanted to help the team. We needed a big play, but it never happened."

And, if everything remains equal, Bishop doesn't see any changes for this coming fall.

So Europe it is.

"I have to do this," says Bishop. "I want to do this. I heard people say I didn't want to go to Europe last year. But that's not true. The Patriots never asked me to. Now I feel I have to go. I have to run a team again. I want to be the guy that guys come to when they're having problems."  But most of all, he wants the NFL, including the Patriots organization, to see what he can do. He wants to remind people that the guy that went 46-3 in four years of college (including 24-0 at Blinn Junior College) is still alive.

Bishop has set four goals for Frankfurt.

"One, win games; two, be a leader; three, win the World Bowl; and four, win the MVP of the league," says Bishop. "As soon as the plane touches the ground in Frankfurt, I'm all business. All football, all the time."  Bishop has something else to prove in Frankfurt in April and May. He has to prove to everyone that believes he is, well, dumb.

It is a stigma that took on a life of its own this past season. In fact, it got so loud that even Bishop's supporters (or Bledsoe's bashers) stopped making their demands.

"There's nothing I can do about people's perceptions," says Bishop. "Look, it took me three weeks to learn the offense at Kansas State, three weeks. I know the plays here in New England. I think people were looking for a reason because I wasn't playing. I wasn't playing because Drew Bledsoe was ahead of me. He's a popular guy around here. He's also put up some great numbers."  There is another stigma he has to travel 5,000 miles to break. That he is a quarterback and not a runner first, passer second. 

"I'm not Kordell Stewart," says Bishop. "That's not my style. I love to throw the ball. Nothing feels better than running touchdowns. All of my running in college came when a play broke down. But people see me run 20 or 30 yards and they call me a runner. I can't help it if I make big plays. Don 't hold that against me."

Bishop has received no assurances from the Patriots as to what will happen after his trip to Europe.

"They want to see what I can do, I guess," says Bishop. "They haven't told me anything. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if I was traded or if I returned. I guess a lot depends on what happens with (backup quarterback) John Freisz. I'm not worried about what they're thinking. I'm thinking about winning and doing well."

In the middle of last season, Bishop intimated that if he were the starting quarterback of the Patriots, he could "win." That confidence has changed.

"If I was starting?," repeats Bishop. "I hope people don't take this the wrong way, but I think I could win. I think we have enough talent.  I'm not saying I could do it alone. But." Bishop says he doesn't have to prove anything to himself. He is as confident as he was the first day he set foot in Foxboro.

"I will be a starting quarterback in the this league. I guarantee that," says Bishop. "I look around the league. I see a lot a guys that I think I am better than. But I have to wait my turn. Those guys don't have Bledsoe playing in front of them."

Strangely, despite being jerked around like a yo-yo, by two different coaching staffs in two years, he hopes eventually he ends up guiding the Patriots to greater heights.

With Friesz all but assured of being released within 10 days, saving more $2 million on the salary cap, at the very least, the No. 2 quarterback position is up for grabs.

And skinny Tom Brady, a rookie the Patriots drafted out of Michigan last year, appears to be at least two seasons away from handling "backup" pressure.

"I think most of the fans believe in me," says Bishop. "Everywhere I go, whether it's a restaurant or grocery store, and somebody recognizes me, they say, 'Hang in there, you'll get you're chance.' I hope so. Other than not getting much playing time, I love it here. These people want to win as much as I do. I think we'd get along just great."


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