Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ quarterback Buck Pierce is scheduled to undergo another test Wednesday to determine how serious his “mild concussion” is and whether he should play Monday against the Montreal Alouettes.
Reading the reports from Pierce’s media availability Tuesday night, the overriding question is: does the often-injured passer need to be sidelined for his own good? Pierce made it clear that after taking a nasty head shot from Brandon Isaac of the Toronto Argonauts last weekend he wanted to get back on the field as soon as possible.
“That's the reality of the game that I have the great pleasure of playing,” said Pierce, who recently discussed life after football with former Winnipeg quarterback Matt Dunigan, a victim of multiple concussions and post-football health struggles. “There are always what-ifs. As athletes we understand that. Maybe somebody on the outside would question if it's worth it. It's worth it to me.”
Pierce was asked how many concussions he has endured in his Canadian Football League playing time. He wouldn’t go there, saying: “I’m going to talk about this current injury. I'm not going to go into the past. The past is the past and people are going to speculate anyway … And it's not like we're trying to hide anything. But this issue has so many things that go along with it.”
Repeated head trauma comes with a great many issues, as scientists are discovering. To Pierce, the consummate competitor, the game is very much the thing and he has to be a part of it. But this is where the Blue Bombers have to ensure Pierce is healthy enough to make the right decision.
Instead, head coach Tim Burke told reporters: “Fortunately, it's a mild concussion and not anything really bad. It's nothing that’s a career-ender, by any stretch of the imagination.”
Maybe someone should tell Pierce about another former Blue Bomber, defensive lineman Doug MacIver, who died earlier this year at 58. MacIver’s family donated his brain to researchers at Boston University’s Centre for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. They discovered MacIver was suffering from “moderately advanced” chronic traumatic encephalopathy, brain damage.
It was Chris Nowinski, the CSTE co-director, who then explained: “It’s safe to say (concussions) are the only known cause for CTE.” MacIver told his sons he had suffered three concussions, probably more.
“If (the Blue Bombers) felt that I wasn't able physically to go out there and play, or that it would be a risk for the club or for me, then they wouldn't do that,” insisted Pierce. “And I wouldn't do that. I'm not a guy that wants to go out in a blaze of flames.”
Perhaps he doesn’t, but playing again so soon after taking who knows how many shots to the head is an invitation for trouble, now and later.