Back with the Bombers

Bill Choy, The Triplicate

Signs three-year deal to stay with the CFL squad

Buck Pierce will continue his professional football career as the starting quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Pierce, a 2000 Del Norte High graduate who has played in the Canadian Football League since 2005, signed a three-year contract on Thursday to remain with the Blue Bombers, who he helped lead to a Grey Cup berth last season.

"It's been a great day," Pierce said in a phone interview with the Triplicate from Winnipeg. "It means a lot to me to stay here in Winnipeg. I'm looking forward to the future."

Pierce won a Grey Cup title in 2006 as a backup with the B.C. Lions

and said it was an emotional experience to once again return to the

title game after suffering a serious injury last year. Winnipeg had not

been to the Grey Cup since 2007 and has not won it since 1990.

Pierce had an injury-filled first year with Winnipeg in 2010, when he

dislocated the humerus in his throwing elbow and bone chips were found.

Pierce bounced back in 2011 and played in 16 of 18 regular season

games. Last year, the Bombers placed first in the East Division with a

10-8 regular season record after finishing 4-14 the year before. The

Bombers lost to the B.C. Lions 34-23 in last year's Grey Cup in

Vancouver.

The 2011 season saw Pierce record career-high numbers in many

categories, including starts (16), completions (261), attempts (411),

passing yards (3,348) and rushing yards (324).

Negotiations had been ongoing, so Pierce was relieved things have

been settled and he will remain a Blue Bomber. He is now living

full-time in Winnipeg and is looking at buying a home.

"It's been a long process," he said. "We (he and Blue Bombers

Vice-President and General Manager Joe Mack) wanted to get this done."

On Thursday, Pierce was a busy man, as he had recently completed his

press conference announcing his re-signing. Later, he had several more

interviews on tap but found the time to talk to the Triplicate and tell

his hometown fans about this exciting day in his life.

The reaction was positive among the fans he ran into on Thursday, he

said.

"Everyone I met said they are very excited I'm back and glad I've

made Winnipeg my home," he said. "They have been really good to me here.

They are very interested in you and the team. It's a big city but in a

way it's not."

Pierce said that the Blue Bombers fans are interested in the team

year-round. At times he will be stopped and asked how he and the team

are doing.

"They're football-crazy here," he said. "We have the best sports

fans."

Pierce admitted that staying healthy for the majority of the year

last season was critical for his success.

"Last year was a big year for me," he said. "I'm 30 years old now so

it feels good to be in this position."

There will be changes in Winnipeg for Pierce this coming season.

The team is moving into a new stadium, which Pierce said is coming

together well and looks terrific.

Also, the Blue Bombers have just hired Gary Crowton as offensive

coordinator. He has been an offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears

of the NFL and in college with the Oregon Ducks and LSU Tigers. He was

head coach at Brigham Young University from 2001 to 2004.

"We met last week and got to know each other," Pierce said. "I'm

looking forward to working with him with the skills and years of

experience he brings to the game."

Pierce believes he fits the mode of the kind of signal-caller Crowton

likes to work with.

"He likes quarterbacks that can run and get the ball out of their

hands quickly," he said.

Pierce was able to return to Del Norte County for Christmas. While it

was a short visit, he said that it always means a lot to him to see his

family and friends again.

While the loss in the Grey Cup title game was tough, Pierce said it

was an amazing experience and makes him excited for the future of the

Blue Bombers.

"We learned a lot and grew as a team," he said."

Pierce is now gunning for a return trip and said he plans to be in

Toronto, the site of the next Grey Cup, to play in and hopefully win the

game.

"We are thrilled that we were able to get a deal done with Buck, who

is a tremendous competitor on the field and a great ambassador for this

organization in the community," said Mack in a press release on the Blue

Bombers website. "His experience and leadership is invaluable in our

locker room and we look forward to having him return in 2012 and help

our team compete for a Grey Cup championship."

Reach Bill Choy at bchoy@triplicate.com .

14017068
The Del Norte Triplicate
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