The quarterback with a history of concussions is determined to give his new team’s opponents their own share of headaches.
Buck Pierce, who suffered a number of injuries — including concussions — during his five years with the B.C. Lions, inked a CFL contract with the Blue Bombers on Monday.
Although the Lions released Pierce due to his injury woes and his $300,000 salary last month, the Gasquet, Calif., native did his best to put those concerns to rest, particularly the concussions.
“They’ve hanged this tag on me and it’s snowballed out there,” Pierce said. “It’s like a fairy tale or an urban legend or something. It’s become a lot bigger than it is. But I can’t even put a number on it. The last time I spoke to trainers, they cleared me. They said I was healthy and that’s what Winnipeg needed to hear and that’s what I needed to hear.”
Even the Bombers were reluctant to pursue Pierce at first when rumours emerged that he was being urged to pack it in.
“No one ever told me I should retire,” said Pierce, 28. “People get concerned when that kind of injury gets thrown around but, on that topic, I’m OK and I know how I feel. I’m a smart guy and I’m not going to jeopardize my future by taking that kind of risk.”
The right-handed thrower added that it was actually an injury to his left shoulder — not a concussion — that kept him out of last year’s playoffs.
The Bombers checked the 6-foot-1, 215-pound New Mexico State product out thoroughly before signing him.
“I have every confidence our trainer and our doctor would not have signed off on this unless they thought he had every chance of being healthy throughout the whole season,” said GM Joe Mack, who hinted that his contract is laden with incentives. “If Buck has a chance to have a really productive season, then he can feel well-compensated.”
Speculation is that Pierce signed a two-year deal that could pay him around $200,000 per annum, with bonuses — with a base salary of $85-$100,000. Pierce apparently got a signing bonus worth $30,000-$40,000.
B.C. released Pierce after they committed to quarterback Casey Printers.
“Nobody likes to be released but it’s part of the business,” Pierce said. “Either you move forward or you fall behind. I’m always a guy who looks up to a new challenge and this is a new challenge.”
Pierce, who recorded a 21-12-1 record as a starter for the Leos, becomes Winnipeg’s most experienced pivot.
“I think everybody up here knows I can play and knows that I can win,” said Pierce, who completed 65% of his passes despite being so injury prone. “But it is a risk. I can see that. But, in my eyes, I’ve done everything I can do to be the player that I am and be the person that I am, and that’s why I’m here.
“I’m going to compete on every play like it’s my last and I’m going to go out there and give everything I can to this organization, and get it working again.”
But first, Pierce will have to win the starting spot over Steven Jyles, Ricky Santos and Adam DiMichele.
“I like guys who will compete, play hard, get extra effort,” said Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice. “He does those things — just like Steven and Ricky Santos and Adam.”
LaPolice will also be teaching his QBs to avoid major collisions on the gridiron.
“All quarterbacks have to know when to slide and when to protect themselves,” he said. “Just because the game’s so much faster. We’ll teach every one of our guys about that process.”