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January 22, 2014

Cowboys announce hiring of veteran tight ends coach, Mike Pope, former Giants assistant

The Cowboys announced the hiring of former New York Giants assistant Mike Pope as tight ends coach, replacing Wes Phillips.

"Mike Pope has been one of the great coaches in this league for a long time," coach Jason Garrett said in a statement released by the team. "I had the good fortune of being around him for four years, and his influence on me has been significant. He is an outstanding person and a welcome addition to our staff."

Garrett and Pope were together with the Giants in 2000, when Garrett was a backup quarterback and Pope started a second stint with the team.

With the Cowboys, Pope will be charged with the development of 2013 second-round pick Gavin Escobar, who caught only nine passes as a rookie. The Cowboys drafted Escobar for his receiving skills, and two years ago, they drafted James Hanna also as a receiving tight end. But Hanna has caught only 20 passes.

The Cowboys released the following bio for Pope:

"In 2013, Pope worked with integrating veteran tight end Brandon Myers into the Giants offense. Myers finished third on the team with 47 catches for 522 yards (fourth on team) and four receiving touchdowns (tied for second on team).

"Pope enhanced his standing as the NFL’s finest tight ends coach in 2012, when Martellus Bennett finished second on the Giants with 55 receptions and five touchdowns and third with 626 receiving yards. In 2011, Pope helped the inexperienced Jake Ballard became a valuable addition to the passing attack as he finished fourth on the team with 38 catches and scored four touchdowns, despite missing two games with a knee injury.

"In 2009-10, Kevin Boss, a fifth-round draft choice from Western Oregon in 2007, caught 77 passes for 1,098 yards and 10 touchdowns. Boss became a full-time starter in 2008 and emerged as a reliable receiver and forceful blocker. He had a team-high six touchdown receptions among his 33 catches.
"Pope’s guidance and teaching helped make Jeremy Shockey one of the NFL’s best tight ends. From 2002-06, Shockey was voted to the Pro Bowl four times. His 371 career receptions place him fourth on the Giants’ career list (behind Amani Toomer, Tiki Barber and Joe Morrison).
"Shockey was the Giants’ first-round draft choice in 2002, when he caught 74 passes, a team record for both rookies and tight ends. He led all NFL tight ends in receiving and receiving yards (894) and he became the first rookie tight end to make the Pro Bowl since 1988. In 2003, Shockey caught 48 passes and was again chosen to go to Hawaii despite missing the season’s final nine games with a knee injury.
"Pope has long been an outstanding tutor of tight ends. Shockey was the fifth tight end to play for Pope to make the NFL’s all-rookie team, joining former Giants Zeke Mowatt, 1983; Mark Bavaro, 1985; and Howard Cross, 1989; and Cincinnati’s Tony McGee in 1993. Pope is not only successful at grooming young talent, but he is also adept at guiding his veteran students to elite status. Five of his players have been selected to the Pro Bowl – Bavaro, Rodney Holman (Bengals), Ben Coates (Patriots), Stephen Alexander (Redskins) and Shockey.
"Pope was re-hired by the Giants on Feb. 11, 2000. He played a major role in bringing a new vitality to the Giants offense that season, which ended with the team winning the NFC championship and playing in Super Bowl XXXV. He has further energized it the last decade by overseeing the development of Shockey and then Boss.
"Pope was a member of Bill Parcells’ Giants’ coaching staff from 1983-91. He left the Giants following the 1991 season and spent two years with the Cincinnati Bengals, the first as tight ends coach and the second as offensive coordinator. He joined the New England Patriots in 1994 as running backs coach before moving to tight ends coach in 1995. Pope was the Washington Redskins’ tight ends coach from 1997-99.
"Prior to coaching in the NFL, Pope spent 13 seasons in the collegiate and high school ranks. His first coaching position was at Lenoir (N.C.) High School in 1964, and he coached at high schools in Charlotte, N.C., Jacksonville, Fla., and Lake Wales, Fla.
"Pope’s first job in college football was with Florida State from 1970-74. He then moved to Texas Tech (1975-77) where he served as a receivers coach and recruiter. From 1978-82, Pope was on the coaching staff at the University of Mississippi, where he coached the receivers, as well as punters and kickers.
"Pope played quarterback for Lenoir-Rhyne College, where his team won one national championship and was runner-up a second time. The team’s combined record during his playing career was 34-8-3. An all-conference player, Pope was team captain and MVP as a senior. He was also inducted into Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities and was the 'Team Before Self' award winner as a senior. Pope is a member of the Lenoir-Rhyne College Hall of Fame. A shoulder injury ended Pope’s World Football League career after one year.
"Pope was born in Monroe, N.C.  Michael and his wife, Lee have two sons, Travus and Daron, and three grandchildren."
-- Carlos Mendez
Twitter @calexmendez


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