Buck Pierce says he’s being given another chance to play the game he loves with the B.C. Lions, but it still hurts to leave the Blue Bombers and his adopted home of Winnipeg.
Pierce, who spent 3 1/2 seasons with the Bombers, was traded to the Lions on Sunday for Canadian receiver Akeem Foster.
“I was sad at first, because I know what this place and this community means to me, and all the friendships on and off the field, outside these walls as well,” Pierce said Monday in a gracious farewell.
“That’s the first emotion.”
Despite the trade, Pierce said he won’t really be leaving Winnipeg, where his fiancee lives and where he has business interests.
“It’s a place that I want to be. I will be here in the off-season,” he said. “I will call it home and hopefully, some day in the future, I can be back in some aspect of the (Bombers) organization.”
His time in Winnipeg, like his previous tenure with the Lions in Vancouver, was marred by injury.
Pierce’s best season was 2011, when he led the Bombers to the Grey Cup game, where Winnipeg dropped a 34-23 decision to the Lions.
The next season was a major disappointment as he spent most of it on the injury list.
After wrestling with the issue in the off-season, the Bombers opened 2013 with Pierce as their starter. But after managing only one win, he was hurt and replaced in the second half of the fourth game by Justin Goltz.
Goltz and Max Hall have started since, with Pierce seeing action only as a backup. Hall really only played one game, injuring his hand on his first series in the second he started.
Goltz too has struggled.
He does get credit for Winnipeg’s second win of the season and first in their new stadium Sunday, although it owed more perhaps to a blitzing Bombers defence that sacked Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant eight times.
The Bombers still have four quarterbacks: Goltz, Hall, Jason Boltus and newcomer Levi Brown, who is on the practice roster.
Despite his feelings about Winnipeg, Pierce said he is glad to get another chance to be useful on a football field.
“I’m given an opportunity to go and still use my talents to help a team achieve their goal and I think as an athlete that’s what you want and that’s what being a pro is all about,” he said.
Pierce, who turns 32 in November, played with the Lions from 2005 to 2009 and says he knows their offence well, since many of the same coaches are still in place.
“My role, as I see it right now, is to come and help, help Travis (Lulay), help the offence and add some depth,” he said.
Acting general manager Kyle Walters thanked Pierce for what he did for the team but said they’ve decided to move on and go with their younger quarterbacks.
He also said the deal gives them a talented young Canadian receiver in Akeem Foster.
“It’s sound philosophy in the CFL when you get a chance to add to your Canadian talent base, particularly at your starting positions, you do it to promote depth and competition,” Walters said.
Theoretically, the Bombers should be OK at that spot but have had trouble keeping the four they had in training camp healthy.
As for quarterback, Walters said for the remainder of the season they may stick with the four they have, but that may change in the off-season with the Ottawa expansion draft looming.
“It would be foolish in an organization not to explore all options in December into how to upgrade all the positions, especially the most important position on the field, which is the quarterback position,” he said. “So if we think we can upgrade that spot, then we will.”
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