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Sports Then and Now



Repeating History? Cooper Kupp Conjures Memories of Bucky Pope 1

Posted on December 09, 2018 by Dean Hybl
Bucky Pope caught 10 touchdown passes and averaged 31.4 yards per catch during his rookie season in 1964.

Bucky Pope caught 10 touchdown passes and averaged 31.4 yards per catch during his rookie season in 1964.

Even though Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp was a third round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft and a third-generation NFL player, his emergence as a star receiver for the Rams conjures comparison to another small school player who made an immediate impact more than 50 years ago.

With a 5-7-2 overall record, the Los Angeles Rams didn’t have a lot to celebrate during the 1964 campaign. However, one bright spot was the emergence of eighth round draft pick Bucky Pope. Known as the “Catawba Claw” because he played his collegiate football at tiny Catawba College in North Carolina, Pope proved to be one of the greatest deep threats in NFL history.

He emerged as a deep threat with a 65-yard touchdown reception from Bill Munson against Detroit during the second week of the season and over the year caught 10 touchdown passes, including six touchdowns of 48 yards or greater.

In a 42-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in week six, Pope caught four passes for 141 yards, including touchdown catches of 48, 68 and 18 yards from Roman Gabriel.

Twice facing Vince Lombardi’s Packers, Pope had a 55-yard touchdown reception in their first meeting and a 95-yard score in the final week of the season.

Overall, Pope caught 25 passes for 786 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 31.44 yards per catch were the second highest single season total in NFL history.

Unfortunately, Pope’s amazing rookie season proved to be something he could not repeat. He hurt his knee during a preseason game in 1965 and didn’t play at all that season.

He caught one pass, a 14 yard touchdown pass, during the 1966 season. In 1967, he caught eight passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Included in that total was a 48-yard touchdown catch against the Eagles that would prove to be the final touchdown catch of his career.

Clearly no longer the player he had been in 1964, Pope was released by the Rams and spent a brief period of time in camp with the Atlanta Falcons before playing in three games, with no catches, for the Green Bay Packers in 1968. Read the rest of this entry →

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