I've always been a fan of backup Quarterbacks. So it was hard following the 90's Patriots, even with their somewhat success, since it was basically Drew Bledsoe and...nothing (Nothing against Bledsoe, he ruled...I just like a backup who looks like he could make waves). The Patriots often carried two QBs in that time, and while Scott Zolak was cool he was never a running threat or really a dark horse in the Patriots QB battle. So it stayed that way, Bledsoe starting, Zolak backing up, and the Patriots doing okay.
In 1999 Zolak moved on to another team, and the Patriots needed depth behind Bledsoe. They added two players...one was a veteran backup (John Friesz) and the other was a 7th round draft pick whose biggest claim to fame was being the cousin of Jamie Foxx, who starred in that year's hit film Any Given Sunday (Foxx's real name is Eric Bishop...go figure).
Bledsoe was fine, and Friesz was fine, but Bishop was the guy I immediately rooted for. Bledsoe has arm strength for days, and Friesz had veteran wiles, but Bishop has the rocket arm AND he could run a little, and I couldn't wait until the day when he would unseat Bledsoe and lead the Patriots to Super Bowl win after Super Bowl win. How cool would that be?
Well in 1999 Bledsoe was the only guy to throw a pass for the Patriots (unless you count Troy Brown and LaMont Warren), so Bishop wouldn't see the field until 2000. Friesz saw some time too, going 11/21 for 66 yards and an interception, but Bishop was the guy who really turned heads, as he came in pretty much just in Hail Mary situations and went 3/9 with one end of 2nd quarter touchdown and an interception. It's pretty crazy that Bishop was heralded as having a bigger arm than Bledsoe, since Bledsoe had a pretty big arm. But I remember that 44 yard hail mary touchdown to Tony Simmons as one of my first football memories...and man it was pretty cool. It's symbolized on the back of this first card of his that I own from 2001 Topps:
Some dude named Tom Brady was a 7th round pick in 2000, and while Friesz was the backup, it definitely seemed either Brady or Bishop would be QB of the future. And it really seemed Bishop was that guy, for a while he was firmly QB3 with Brady being QB4 (though Brady did go 1/3 for 6 yards in 2000). But then 2001 happened, and Mo Lewis did his thing, and the Patriots needed a QB. And they turned to Tom Brady, and he ended up being the best QB since Joe Montana...so...that worked out well for the franchise.
But at the time of the move I cursed it...it took me a few weeks to fully support Brady since I was such a Bishop backer. But Brady moved on to fame, and Bishop moved on...to the CFL. Kinda crazy since he seemed to have the build and acumen for a QB job, but instead teams went with guys like Jay Fielder and Bishop had to go up North.
It was probably for the best, as Bishop's CFL time was a mixed success. From 2002 to 2006 he threw 19 touchdowns against 32 interceptions, which is not good. In 2007 he threw 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and helped his team to the semifinals. But his career then tailed off with 27 touchdowns versus 34 interceptions. He did also have some time in the AFL when its schedule was during the CFL offseason, and that was really the highlight of his post NFL career as he set records for most rushing yards in a game and most rushing yards in a season (they really don't run the ball in the AFL pretty much at all), which led to people calling Bishop the "Michael Vick of the AFL." So...cool beans.
Anyways, Bishop was a cool cat who showed a lot of potential but lost out on a nice starting spot to another youngster. And as a Patriots fan I can't really be mad, because Brady is clearly the freakin' man. But as a 14 year old in 2000 I would've collected Michael Bishop far before I would've collected Tom Brady. And now I can do that collection justice while not having to pay exorbitant sums for Bishop's cards.