Was Michael Bishop before his time? If you’re asking, “who is Michael Bishop?” Let’s talk about athletes who were, as NBC Sports’ Tom E. Curran said, “born too soon.
Is there an athlete from the past whose skills set was just too different for their Era, but if that same guy were to come along today, he or she would fit right in?
You look at big men like former Ohio State star and Chicago Bulls player Brad Sellers in basketball. He was a 7-footer who shot jump shots and felt comfortable on the perimeter far before that became the end vogue thing to do.
I’m not saying Sellers would be Kevin Durant today, but I’m almost sure he would be better in 2021 than he was in the late 1980s. That’s a basketball example, but in football, NBC Sports’ Curran brought up an NFL equivalent.
Michael Bishop was born too soon https://t.co/JCmSDRtefU
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) May 7, 2021
The New England Patriots drafted Bishop in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL Draft. Bishop was coming off of one of the most successful and dominant college football careers we’d ever seen.
As a sophomore, he finished as the Heisman Trophy runner-up after throwing for 2,844 yards, 23 TDs, and five interceptions while rushing for 748 yards and 14 more scores.
Despite his brilliance in college and otherworldly athleticism, NFL scouts doubted his ability to become an elite quarterback. Unwilling to change his position, as many athletic black quarterbacks were pressured to do during his time, Bishop found himself at the bottom of the draft and trying to carve a niche on a franchise that already had Drew Bledsoe as their QB1, John Friesz. Some guy named Tom Brady was selected the following year.
That wasn’t an ideal situation for Bishop.
How Did Bishop’s Career in New England Go?
Bishop probably needed more years in school, but he instead entered the NFL Draft after two years in school. He’d come from Blinn College (a school Cam Newton also attended), but he needed more seasoning and preparation for the NFL game.
He didn’t get much of an opportunity. Old-school offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was the man in charge of the offense, and Bishop’s style wasn’t exactly his cup of tea.
Bishop was inactive in almost every game as a rookie. He recounted a conversation he had with Weis in an article from 247 Sports’ D. Scott Frtichen.
Coming out and going to New England, I have so much respect for (offensive coordinator) Charlie Weis, because Charlie Weis was the first person to put me in a game,” Bishop said on the recent podcast. “Charlie Weis told me, ‘Listen, Bishop, you have done nothing wrong.’ His exact words to me were, ‘You just have got too much talent. No one knows what to do with you.’ I said, ‘What do you mean, I have too much talent and nobody knows what to do with me?’ He said, ‘You’ve done nothing wrong, it’s just right now we don’t know what to do with you.’ At that time, I was thinking, ‘Hey, then let me go to another team that can find something to do with me.’ I trusted and believed in what I brought to the table.
Bishop landed in the CFL and Arena Football League and never quite hit his stride, except one banner year in 2005 in the AFL when he lit it up for a bad Grand Rapids Rampage team.
During Bishop’s NFL career, he played in eight games for the Patriots. He threw nine passes, completed three of them for 80 yards, a TD, and one interception. All of his stats were accumulated in 2000.
Would Things Be Different for Bishop in 2021?
Former Patriots quarterback and current radio host Scott Zolak responded to Curran’s initial tweet with some disbelief. He tweeted: “wow.”
Curran pushed his point a little more. He responded:
Compare that skill set to Fields … better runner … better arm? He just had no concept of how to protect the ball, I think, because he was so outside the box for that time. Shit wasn’t in place to take cultivate and take advantage of that skill set and it is now.
Bishop needed the kind of coaching that would have cultivated his skills, and he also needed coaches who “knew what to do with him.” Unfortunately, he didn’t find that situation.