Bishop ponders move

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Sometimes they walk over to see it, the mark in the plastic seat in the upper deck of the arena in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Michael Bishop was just fooling around, standing at his own end line, entertaining some guys from NBC.

He took a couple of steps and unloaded a throw.

The ball soared over the 64-yard Arena Football League field. It cleared the net used to corral kicked balls and when it hit the seat, people thought they had heard a gunshot.

Bishop once threw a ball 93 yards in the air in the Arena Football League's annual talent workout. That's 20 yards farther than anyone could muster in Damon Allen's Quarterback Challenge last weekend.

He is eye-catching, this Michael Bishop, but, at 29, still anything but a sure thing. So you can't blame the Argos brass for not shuddering when Bishop says he may not come back for a fourth season with the double blue.

Moonlighting with the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League, Bishop is the league's 21st ranked passer and its leading rusher. Talk about a tale of two skills.

There is talk of a big contract to stay in the Arena league but since the top paid player in the AFL makes $165,000 US, it's not like Bishop is looking at a lifetime of security to play arena football.

"Right now, I've got one game left in the regular season. I want to take a few days off," Bishop said. "I haven't ruled out going to Toronto to play and I haven't ruled out staying here.

"I told (Argos offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin) that I wouldn't sign anything until I spoke with him and that's what I plan on doing."

Argos VP of football operations, Adam Rita says he would suspend Bishop if he doesn't show up for camp May 28 but doubts it will be necessary.

"With every conversation, he has always been on the same page with me," Rita said. "Until he isn't, there's no point speculating."

Bishop delivered a 57.7 completion rate, 3,156 yards passing, 52 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions this season. But here is the most telling stat. The Rampage went 3-12 with Bishop as its starter.

Bishop insists his decision isn't just about money but the chance to start and play through his mistakes.

"I know what Damon has done, he's the grandfather of quarterbacks in this league," Bishop said, "but I still want to be that guy who is out there making plays. I respect Damon a lot but I know what I can do."

Of course, Bishop will not start over the 41-year-old Allen who, you might remember, is the defending Grey Cup MVP and the league's career leader in passing yards.

Bishop has proven that he can play in both leagues and with this season likely to be spent as an understudy to Allen, there isn't any reason he can't take the Argos' money as well.

After that, well, Allen is probably in his final year. There are inviting names in the form of Jason Maas and Khari Jones in Edmonton to look at as backups even if Bishop decides to sit.

That's the thing about Michael Bishop. What he can do is always more impressive than what he has.


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