Argos coach being second-guessed

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:45 PM ET

WINNIPEG — Buck Pierce didn’t have to answer the question. The instant clicking of the cameras made his thoughts plain to read.

This is what the Blue Bombers QB said when he was asked whether there was extra incentive for him to beat the Argonauts, considering they passed on him when he was a free agent during the winter: “Um, you know, it’s one of those things, it’s professional football. It’s a business. Would I have entertained some offers? Of course, I was looking for a job. Would it have been the right fit, you never know.”

Before Pierce answered, a broad smile creased his face. That’s when the cameras started snapping.

The questions surrounding the decision of Argos head coach Jim Barker to shrug at Pierce, whose concussion history scared the Argos off, and go with inexperience in Cleo Lemon and others could become louder Friday night if Pierce pastes the visitors at Canad Inns Stadium.

A healthy Pierce would have been a sound choice for Barker, who fired all of the Argos’ quarterbacks shortly after he was hired in February. But the possibility that Pierce could go down with another concussion was too much for Barker. In the larger picture, Barker did not think there was anyone with CFL experience (who was available) who could help Toronto in the long run.

“Sure, we considered (Pierce),” Barker said. “He has been in this league a long time and he has played for (Argos and Lions owner) David Braley in British Columbia.

“We just made the decision based on his (concussion) history, and that was the direction our organization was going to go.”

Barker was working in Calgary with the Stampeders when quarterback Dave Dickenson’s career was ended by concussion trouble.

“Dave tried to play, and we had his helmet hooked up with a computer, and he took a hellacious hit in the pre-season that went off the charts,” Barker said. “And the one that ended his career was just a blip. That’s the way those things work. Getting hit the proper way, it is over.

“(Pierce) is a great player and I hope he can play for years.”

Barker’s voice rose a bit at times during his news conference with members of the media. Each time he goes to a new city in the Canadian Football League, Barker will be queried about his quarterback decisions by reporters who are seeing him for the first time. He shouldn’t expect it to abate until Lemon makes a positive impact, which is not guaranteed.

“You can either do what you feel in your gut is the right thing to do for your organization, or you can yield to what all you media types and people believe should happen,” a perturbed Barker said. “I took all the experience that I had. If this does not work, it is on Jim Barker. I am fully ready to accept that.

“We did not have a ton of options. Michael Bishop was out there, but those options are not great options. These are the cards I was dealt. You can either play (Lemon), or you can cry about it.”

Lemon couldn’t get any momentum against the Stampeders, but Pierce led the Blue Bombers to a thumping of the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Week 1. But the Bombers probably wouldn’t have interest in Pierce if Stefan LeFors had not packed it in.

Pierce, who suffered a concussion in a game against the Argos last year, figured he knows what awaits him from the Toronto defence.

“I think they will try to get pressure on me,” Pierce said. “Last week, Hamilton was dropping eight guys, which allowed me to run and move the pocket a little bit. They’re going to try to heat me up a little bit.”

Not that Pierce minds.

“I couldn’t be happier where I am,” Pierce said. “It does not matter who am I going to face. I’m excited about the opportunity to get a win.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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