First, let’s get this out of the way right now: His last name is pronounced like “wow,” not “blow,” so stuff those jokes like the Thanksgiving turkey. Now (rhymes with Blough), just who is this guy whose first snap Thursday will be his very first in a regular-season NFL game?
Blough played at Purdue and was signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent after the NFL draft last spring. He couldn’t land a spot during training camp but did enough to impress the Lions in the final preseason game so they traded for him on Aug. 30. He’s been on the roster all season, but has been active for only the past three games, since Stafford was injured Nov. 3.
He may be best remembered as the most recent quarterback to beat Ohio State, leading Purdue past the Buckeyes, then ranked second in the country. In the 49-20 win, he completed 25 of 43 passes for 378 yards and three touchdowns. Ohio State hasn’t lost since.
In four seasons at Purdue, he set school records for passing yards in a game (572 in 2018) and completion percentage for a season (.660 in 2018) and if you’re wondering why he didn’t accomplish gaudier stats in 36 starts at QB, look no further than Drew Brees, Class of 2001 in the Krannert School of Management. Still, Blough ranks in the top five in most categories.
Blough is used to being overlooked. He lost his starting job to Elijah Sindelar before the 2018 season but got it back when Sindelar was injured, just in time to face Ohio State. “I knew that this was my one opportunity for the entire season to go out there,” he said last year, “and I was going to cut it loose.” Sound familiar?
And don’t be surprised if he has a trick up his sleeve against the Bears. He’s an amateur magician.
He has a number of card tricks that have amazed and mystified teammates, with the Lions and during the Browns’ annual rookie show in Cleveland. “Most of them love it,” he told the Free Press this fall. “The reaction of a lot of the guys, they think it’s great and it’s kind of mysterious: ‘How do you do those kind of things?’ All of them were incredibly receptive to the show I put on in Cleveland. You’ve got to have a little charisma and try to control the room and act like you’re in control of everything.”
Kind of like playing quarterback.
Blough, who is from the Dallas suburb of Carrollton, learned magic from a high school teammate. “So I sat there and watched him do it for probably a few months,” he said. “Then he started teaching me and I was like, ‘You know, I can do this. I can do these tricks.’ I just love the jaw drops of someone going, ‘What! How did you do that?’
“Seven years old to 70 years old, it doesn’t matter. Magic is a fun way to just entertain somebody. I like the sleight of hand and you’ve got to practice it to be good at it. So that was kind of what drew me to it.”