Michael Bishop - Quarterback - 2002-08 - Kansas
Michael Bishop was a prodigious collegiate talent with the Kansas State Wildcats. The Galveston Texas native had a dominating 2 season career with Kansas State culminating in a Heisman runner-up campaign in 1998. Only Ricky Williams stood in Bishop's way as he was named the NCAA's top passer. Blessed with a powerful arm and great rushing ability Bishop would go on to be drafted in the 7th round of the 1999 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. Bishop did not see much action with the Patriots finally seeing the field in 2000 where his career highlight was a 44 yard Hail-Mary touchdown pass. He would spend the 2001 season in NFL Europe with the Frankfurt Galaxy before a brief time with the Green Bay Packers.
The Toronto Argonauts signed Bishop amidst great fanfare for the 2002 season. Bishop was impressive in camp displaying his incredible athletic skills and cannon throwing arm. Bishop would see action as a starter his first season but was slow to pick-up the Canadian game. Reggie Slack was brought in and assumed the controls leading Toronto to the playoffs. In 2003, quarterback legend Damon Allen would arrive in Double Blue and Bishop was relegated to third string duties behind Allen and quarterback Marcus Brady. With Allen hobbled in 2005 Bishop would see increased playing time but struggle with 15 interceptions against 6 touchdowns. Allen would return and lead Toronto to a Grey Cup victory over B.C. in Ottawa.
Bishop would continue to back-up Allen and Brady as Allen would go on to have a Most Outstanding Player winning season in 2005. Finally father time would catch up to Allen and he would pass the starting torch over to Bishop in 2007. Bishop responded with his best season as a pro with 2,920 passing yards and an impressive 22-11 touchdown to interception ratio. The season would come to a crashing halt as with Toronto hosting the Grey Cup Bishop struggled mightily in the East final at home as the Argonauts lost to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The disappointment hit home with the fans who booed Bishop and the Argonauts.
In an effort to quell the fans and address the quarterback situation, 2007 Most Outstanding Player Kerry Joseph was acquired by the Argonauts for the 2008 season. The tandem was billed as a 1-2 punch but it was clearly a misguided notion. With both quarterback's bristling for time under Center the team struggled and Bishop was eventually shipped out of town to Saskatchewan at mid-season. He responded well in Saskatchewan initially leading the Roughriders to a Labour Day win over Winnipeg however he would struggle down the stretch and into the playoffs. It was a short lived experience in Saskatchewan as he was not brought back to camp in 2009.
Bishop was out of football to start the 2009 season until Mike Kelly feeling pressure in Winnipeg needed a quarterback. His anointed starter Stefan Lefors had struggled and Kelly turned to a quick fix in Bishop. In his first game after not being at a training camp Bishop was impressive in a road victory over his old team Toronto. Bishop would have a strong season for Winnipeg posting a career high 3,035 yards passing and 15 touchdowns. Again seen as a short term fix Bishop was not brought back with a new regime in 2010.
The durable Bishop would surface again in 2011 with Calgary when quarterback Drew Tate was injured. Bishop was brought in for the short yardage packages behind starter Henry Burris. He would suit up for 5 games with Tate out and contribute 1 rushing touchdown.
An amazing athlete Michael Bishop carved out a 9 season career in the CFL with many ups and downs. The affable Bishop was a good team player blessed with one of the strongest throwing arms in league history.
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