Buck's got something to prove

When Buck Pierce returns to Vancouver as an opposing quarterback for the first time this weekend,...

When Buck Pierce returns to Vancouver as an opposing quarterback for the first time this weekend, he’ll have to beat B.C. coach Wally Buono’s Lions to make his point.

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:47 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Buck Pierce will tell you he owes a lot to the B.C. Lions, even going so far as to say his years there made him the person he is today.

But scratch just a little below the surface, and out comes the fierce competitor, the man who hated being dumped, with a “prone-to-injury” label tied to his can, following the 2009 CFL season — not long after signing a three-year, $900,000 contract.

“Nobody likes to get let go. Nobody likes to get fired,” the Blue Bomber quarterback was saying Wednesday. “And when everybody else was saying I might be done, I never thought that at all. I just thought I had to find the right situation.”

A year and a half later, Pierce is convinced he’s found it.

And he so badly wants to prove it.

That’s why this weekend, when he returns to Vancouver as an opposing quarterback for the first time, will be special.

And why any chat he has with Lions coach/GM Wally Buono will be tempered by the fact they’re on opposite sides, now — just like it was when the Lions played here, two weeks ago.

“We talked when he came here,” Pierce said. “It’s different than if we sat down in the off-season or something. He’s a competitive guy, I’m a competitive guy. We want to go out there and give each other our best game, and prove who made what decision right.”

If Pierce is going to prove Buono wrong, he has to beat him. Stay in the game, and beat him.

Two weeks ago, he was injured, Alex Brink coming off the bench to finish the job.

It’s the one question still dogging Pierce: can he keep himself from falling apart?

Each time he goes down, he proves Buono right.

The man was certainly right when he signed Pierce as a free-agent camp walk-on in 2005.

“That’s where I got my opportunity and people gave me a shot where a lot of them didn’t,” Pierce said of the Leos. “They trusted me with the keys to that organization for a few years. I relished every opportunity I got there, and I wouldn’t take any of it back. It’s made me who I am today.”

Who he is today is the third-highest rated passer in the league, the undisputed leader — he routinely runs quarterback/receiver meetings, with no coaches present, the day before games — on a first-place team that hasn’t even hit its full stride on offence.

The other day, head coach Paul LaPolice was talking to Pierce about the good old days when Khari Jones would throw five touchdown passes on a good night, three on an average night.

Sure, defences have changed. But the coach figures Pierce has the same ability.

“He’s got all the tools to be as good as anybody in this league,” LaPolice said.

He’s already the most popular man in a town that, unlike Vancouver, lives and dies with its football team.

“I was in Vancouver for a long time, and hockey was No. 1 there,” Pierce said. “When you come out here and you put the work in and have success, the people here are outstanding in the way they treat you and respect you for what you’ve done, not just on the football field but in the community as well. That’s a big part of it.”

Pierce is feeling as good as he ever has these days, his confidence running this offence growing by the week.

Starting six straight games, his team winning five, he’s started to show what he can do when he stays upright.

But whether Wally Buono made the right decision or not, well, the jury’s not quite ready to deliver a verdict.

It may not be a closing argument in Vancouver this weekend.

But it will be an important piece of evidence.

One Buck Pierce can’t wait to deliver.


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