David White: Bear Pascoe patiently waits for NFL to come calling

Special to The BeeApril 12, 2014 

Most of us hate long- distance phone calls from numbers we don't recognize. Maybe it's a telemarketer in the Dakotas. Or a collector from Omaha.

Bear Pascoe? He loves when he doesn't recognize the number on Caller ID. Is that a Seattle area code? Maybe the greater Chicago metro area? He can't punch the green answer button fast enough, hoping it's an NFL executive on the other end.

"If it's a number I don't know, it's like, 'Oh, what's this?' " Pascoe said after answering his phone and — oh, shrug — it's just his hometown columnist calling to ask what's up.

"Right now, I'm just kind of hanging out, staying in shape, waiting for the phone to ring."

Pascoe is an NFL free agent, the polite term for unemployed. His contract with the New York Giants expired last month, and they let him and his Super Bowl XLVI ring take a walk.

The 30 other pro football teams — and also the Oakland Raiders — have been free ever since to sign the ex-Fresno State tight end. The free-agent market opened March 11.

To which Pascoe says, not everyone all at once.

"It's a little frustrating at times, waiting for something to happen," Pascoe said. "The uncertainty can be nerve-racking, but it's good to have patience and eventually something will happen."

Patience, Pascoe can handle. He grew up on a ranch in the granite hills of Porterville, living at the speed of mosey. He spends his downtime riding horses in open spaces, taking his time when he has nothing but.

Five years in New York City has done nothing to change his pace of living. Neither has an NFL career that's been no hurry-up offense.

Pascoe had one catch as a rookie after starting the year on the 49ers' chop block. He spent parts of two years on the Giants practice squad. He's been converted from a tight end to a fullback to a tight end again.

It took five seasons to string together 33 catches, but try telling the 49ers he isn't a factor (see TD catch, 2012 NFC Championship. Or, don't.)

"Just talking with teams right now, but yeah, hopefully we'll have a deal in place soon," Pascoe said.

To think, NFL free agency used to mean megabucks for veterans with championship jewelry such as Pascoe. Not anymore. Only a few brand names cash in; everyone else gets leveraged into waiting for minimum-wage offers with few guaranteed dollars.

Who knows? Maybe the Giants will re-sign Pascoe, after all. But first, they'll see how things go in the NFL draft next month. If teams can draft a blocking tight end at fifth-round prices, they will. If not, the Bear Pascoes of the world will still be there waiting by the phone, and they know it. This is what happens when you get a rookie salary cap; younger options with cheaper wages.

So they make Pascoe wait and train on his own dime, and at his own risk.

"I still feel like I've got a lot to offer as far as the NFL goes, and helping teams win games," Pascoe said. "I'm just waiting for that shot."

Truth is, Pascoe is going to get picked up by somebody. He's still young enough at 28, and versatile enough as a blocker and receiver, to keep his NFL career moving. With 52-man rosters to maximize, teams love two-position players who come at BOGO rates.

So don't feel too bad for Pascoe. He'll keep pumping upper-body weights, and catching new Broadway plays with wife Kate and trying out new restaurants in NYC.

Just don't tie up his phone checking up on him. He's expecting an important call, any day now.

The columnist can be reached at bydw@sbcglobal.net and on Twitter @bydavidwhite.

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