Watching Michael Bishop play quarterback is a lot like ordering fine cuisine at an overhyped restaurant. But when the night ends, somehow you find yourself wanting more.
The meal may look perfect. It may melt in your mouth. The presentation may be enticing. But you come away unsatisfied, wondering why there wasn't more bread at your table to fill up on.
This is Bishop's talent and also his curse. You cannot separate one from the other.
He is the Argo Magic Man, both Siegfried and Roy. Now you see him, now you don't. One minute brilliant, one minute inept. One minute breathtaking, one minute looking like the game is completely foreign to him.
This isn't anything new, although some may think it's getting old. This is Bishop's sixth years as a professional quarterback, team four, league three; he is forever the next big thing and every start seems to look like his first all over again, his own personal groundhog day. Only the opponents and the circumstances seem to change.
But the questions remain the same.
Give him time, Adam Rita, the general manager who traded away Marcus Brady insists. Give him time, Leo Cahill, the old coach insists. And even when the Argos offensive line gave him time, against a horrible Calgary Stampeders team that made it impossible to lose last night, Bishop was Bishop in the 49-24 romp.
Making you wonder why. Making you wonder if he'll ever be.
Making you wonder how so much sometimes translates into so little. Making you check the calendar to see whether Damon Allen will have his cracked tibia healed in time for the playoffs, to see if the Argos have any chance.
Memo to Damon: Get well soon.
Bishop can beat the Stampeders in a football game so awfully played it looked like Matt Dunigan was coaching both teams. But on the road, against a real team, this is a whole lot of sauce and a little piece of veal and the rest may be wishful thinking. Michael Bishop: So full of hope and so often the impractical a quarterback.
It is really too bad. Because he has everything. He is huge for a CFL quarterback at 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds. He runs with the authority of a running back and his arm makes Dieter Brock's look like a spare part.
Only this is like one of those furniture diagrams you don't completely understand. The parts don't fit together. Something is missing.
He can make the kind of breathtaking frozen rope pass for a touchdown like he threw to R. Jay Soward last night and a for a moment you think: This is an NFL quarterback who has lost his way.
That always has been the way with Bishop. When he finished second in the Heisman Trophy behind the now-retired Ricky Williams, his athletic ability was supposed to carry him to stardom. It did carry him to the New England Patriots where he was once listed ahead of Tom Brady before playing his way out of the NFL.
THIRD SEASON WITH ARGOS
From there, there was five days in Green Bay and a part of a season in Frankfurt and this is his third season with the Argos, his first starting any series of games.
And with it comes the tease. The talent is obvious, the delivery isn't. You watch him in the pocket, his feet shuffling, looking uncomfortable, looking hesitant, looking anything but in control. The way Michael Souza looked last night in his first Canadian Football League start.
The way you're supposed to look when it's your first game. Uncertain. Full of promise. Completely erratic. It's okay to be that way when you're 22 years old, just out of college, playing on the road. There's supposed to be a learning curve for quarterbacks.
But Michael Bishop is 28 years old and in his sixth professional season. His statute of personal limitations is about to run out.