Blue brass reconsiders Buck

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:28 PM ET

On March 17, Blue Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice said the Bombers were not interested in signing free agent quarterback Buck Pierce.

In fact, LaPolice questioned whether Pierce should even continue playing football.

“In B.C., the trainers have talked to him about not playing anymore. So that’s what our concern is,” LaPolice said then. “Because if he gets one more hit... with head problems you’ve got to be very concerned about the person, his life.”

Monday, LaPolice was in the Bomber locker-room, a room that now has a spot for Pierce.

So, what changed?

For starters, the Bombers found out returnee Stefan LeFors — who was benched and had his salary slashed four games into last season — still had a bad taste in his mouth and was considering not reporting to training camp.

LeFors, who was supposed to compete with newcomer Steven Jyles for the No. 1 job, told the Sun last week he was likely taking a job outside of football.

“It was a factor,” Winnipeg GM Joe Mack said Monday. “I know a lot of people were saying, ‘What’s going on here?’ You have to be cognizant of a certain amount of CFL experience. That’s when we really started to revisit the issue with Buck Pierce.”

Mack says the Bombers got Pierce’s permission to speak to the Lions about his health. What they found wasn’t what they’d heard through the CFL grapevine: that Pierce was one hit away from seeing his career end.

“After we did all the research, we didn’t think that was true,” LaPolice said. “And neither did our medical people.”

It wasn’t just Pierce’s concussion history that the Bombers looked into. The 28-year-old’s 2009 season ended after a big hit to his left, non-throwing shoulder.

So the Bombers got access to the results of an MRI, and team doctors gave their stamp of approval.

Mack also saw Pierce work out at a free agent camp in Los Angeles about a month ago.

“The shoulder looked good,” Mack said. “He was accurate, had good velocity, good ball placement. He seemed very enthused about coming with us.”

Mack checked some game film of Pierce and saw more things to like: his competitiveness, the way he moved the chains — and the fact he usually won.

More background checks determined Pierce was liked by his teammates, the last thing Mack needed to hear.

The next step: contract talks.

Those ended on the weekend, with Pierce agreeing to a deal that’ll likely pay him a considerable amount less than the $300,000 he earned in B.C. last season.

“It wasn’t bad,” Pierce said of his pay cut. “It was something I was comfortable with, and they were comfortable with. I come in excited, happy and ready to get the season going. If I can do what’s expected of me, I’ll be very happy with that.”


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