Pope courts eminenceWritten by Matt Sussman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s time for some NFL preseason news that doesn’t involve Terrell Owens.
Scary, I know, but it does exist.
P.J. Pope, BGSU’s tailback for the last four years, has a modest chance to land a spot on the Chicago Bears roster. Two of the team’s running backs are hurt (physically, not emotionally —- if they are hurt emotionally, they don’t mention it in the injury report). This put His Popeness second on the depth chart for training camp. He’s gotten the bulk of carries for the Bears during the first two preseason games, rushing for 74 yards on 22 attempts.
The bad news for Pope is that the aforementioned hurt backs, Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson, should be healthy by the time the season starts. Their triumphant returns may hurt Pope emotionally.
But I wonder how many BGSU football fans know Pope was signed by the Chicago Bears and has a chance to make the roster. Probably not many. You never heard much about Pope when he was playing for BGSU, either. Most of the attention in Wood County either surrounded quarterbacks Josh Harris and Omar Jacobs, both of whom were draft picks. (Pope went undrafted.)
Then again, all Pope did at BGSU was rush for 3,116 yards, receive 1,148 yards and score 41 touchdowns in four seasons. He was the only BGSU football player ever to run for 3,000 and catch for 1,000. So, he really didn’t do much.
Meanwhile, a few miles south of Chicago, former UT quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is exciting the city of Tampa. In two games, he’s completed 80 percent of his passes (22 for 27) with three touchdowns and one interception. That’s a QB rating of 134.1. Sure, he accomplished those numbers against second- and third-string lackeys, but he’s getting just enough attention for Tampa Bay fans to believe he could be something special down the road.
Coach Jon Gruden actually compared one of his touchdown passes to one Joe Montana could have thrown. If that’s not enough pressure to withstand, here’s some more: Tom Brady, like Gradkowski, was drafted in the sixth round.
But in his third game, he played like a Ball State quarterback: 10 of 17 for 124 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Because of that last game , I hope the Buccaneers cut Gradkowski — not because he played for BGSU’s mortal enemy, but because that’s the kind of adversity he’s so good at overcoming. Then he’ll sign with another team, win the starting job, and regularly hand off the ball to Pope, thereby causing painfully conflicting emotions for UT and BGSU fans everywhere.