Bishop the ultimate mercenary

Blue Bombers practice roster quarterback Michael Bishop gestures during practice in Winnipeg, Man.,...

Blue Bombers practice roster quarterback Michael Bishop gestures during practice in Winnipeg, Man., Monday. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:43 AM ET

WINNIPEG - I’m not sure I would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

But sure enough, there was Michael Bishop, wearing a Winnipeg Blue Bomber practice jersey, Monday, firing balls all over the field as only Michael Bishop can.

It’s fitting the guy was wearing No. 13, because the arrival of the strong-armed, 35-year-old these days is definitely a sign of bad luck.

Lose your No. 1 or No. 2 pivot and need a stopgap — Bishop’s your man.

He’s the CFL’s ultimate mercenary. A quarterback for rent, here not for a long time, but a good time.

Early this season, he was off to Calgary for five games.

Two years ago, he answered Winnipeg’s SOS.

The guy will go anywhere they’ll put a football in his hand.

“You can get sent to Somalia — if they’ve got a football team there and you want to play, you play,” Bishop said.

This isn’t Somalia, but Bishop was in a pretty precarious situation the last time he was parachuted in.

In 2009, he was Professor Mike Kelly’s hired gun once Kelly realized Stefan LeFors couldn’t run his third-world offence.

Of course, nobody could.

Funny thing is, when the new regime, Bomber GM Joe Mack and head coach Paul LaPolice, took over, Bishop was a quick casualty, dumped within weeks that off-season.

It was LaPolice who made that phone call, and LaPolice who made this one, telling Bishop things have changed.

LaPolice also told him to ignore the critics and keep doing what he loves for as long as his family allows it, and he can afford it.

Apparently, it wasn’t a tough sell, not even at practice roster wages and even though there’s no guarantee Bishop will ever take a snap in anger.

“It depends on Buck,” LaPolice said.

Of course. It always depends on Buck Pierce, the starter with the injury-du-jour.

The Bombers expect to let Pierce practice, Tuesday, after which he’ll no doubt declare himself fit as a fiddle for Friday’s game in Hamilton.

But the old cliche about the backup being one hit away from playing has never been more true than in Winnipeg, lately.

Last week, the Bombers looked at Pierce’s sore ribs and Alex Brink’s wonky shoulder and reached straight for the big, red button.

Answering the alarm, the one man with extensive experience in Coach LaPo’s offence and the natural ability to get off his couch and play.

“I’m not somebody who’ll go home and gain 40 pounds and try to come in and play football,” Bishop said. “You live life to the fullest. If you’re still able to move around and still play, you get a phone call, you come and have fun. I’ve been in the fire before.

“Could I play on Friday? I could play Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday — whatever day it is.”

That’s the thing with the Bombers. Their quarterback situation seems to change by the day.

And with the playoffs looming, they needed some insurance, even if it comes in a package with a warning label: Contents Are Inconsistent.

“Paul felt comfortable that in an emergency Michael would be able to get the terminology, get the plays called to be able to get us through a game,” Mack said. “With no disrespect to Michael ... he’s essentially an insurance policy. Particularly at the quarterback situation, I didn’t want to see us caught flat-footed. If we get into the playoffs and then have a couple of injuries, I still want us to be able to be competitive. Michael seems the most logical choice to try to do that.”

I’m not sure Michael Bishop has ever been the logical choice.

But he may have been the best one.

If that even makes sense.


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