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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #63: Tom Tupa

It's been said that God loves drunks, little children, and backup quarterbacks. I suspect he loves them even more when they can also punt.

Tom Tupa was the starting quarterback at Ohio State in 1987, throwing for over 2,200 yards and 15 touchdowns while also being named All-American as a punter. The then-Phoenix Cardinals drafted him in the third round of the 1988 NFL draft, and he stuck around with them for four years, even starting some games under center. He was never very good. After a year backing up Jeff George in Indianapolis, he headed to Cleveland for the 1994 and 95 seasons, playing for Bill Belichick and becoming a full-time punter.

Tupa headed to New England along with Belichick for the 1996 season, and the two helped the Pats make it to the Super Bowl. He was a serviceable kicker (Tupa, not Belichick), but what was most fun about him was knowing that he was at least a somewhat competent QB, so the threat of a fake punt was always there. It was a threat far more than a reality - he only attempted two passes for New England, both in 1996. He continued to punt for the Pats in 1997 and 1998 before heading to the Jets (where he did play most of a game at QB in 1999 - against New England - after an injury to Vinny Testaverde). That 1999 season he earned a Pro Bowl nod. He finished up his pro career with a couple of seasons in Tampa Bay (winning a Super Bowl ring) and then one with Washington.

Fun Fact 1: Tom Tupa scored the first two-point conversion in modern NFL history in 1994 on a fake point-after kick.

Fun Fact 2: Tom Tupa has the following in common with Tom Brady. As of today, both of them threw a pick-six on their last NFL pass attempt. Tupa's came on a botched punt attempt in overtime in 2005 against the Saints, winning the game for New Orleans.

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