THE CANADIAN PRESS
WINNIPEG — Buck Pierce wasn’t out of football long.
On Tuesday, the former quarterback retired following nine CFL campaigns. Three days later, he returned to Winnipeg – where he spent three-plus seasons – as the Blue Bombers’ running backs coach.
Rookie head coach Mike O’Shea said Friday adding Pierce to his staff was a no-brainer.
“When Buck retired, it came up as part of my multiple conversations per day with Kyle (Bombers GM Kyle Walters),” O’Shea said. “Then it went to how good a guy Buck is, his experience and the value of adding a CFL quarterback to our staff.
“The running backs position hadn’t been filled and it’s an entry-level position for guys who want to get into coaching and learn the daily rigours of becoming a professional football coach. Kyle and I got on the phone with Buck and he was very receptive. He wants to coach, he loves the CFL game and it just made sense on all levels to have Buck Pierce on our staff.”
The six-foot-two, 195-pound Pierce began his CFL career with the B.C. Lions, spending five seasons in Vancouver before signing with Winnipeg as a free agent following the ’09 season. Pierce, 32, remained with the Bombers until last September when he was traded back to B.C.
Injuries limited Pierce to 67 starts in 125 career CFL games although he did post a solid 64.2 completion percentage, with 76 TDs and 63 interceptions. He also averaged 7.2 yards per rushing attempt with 14 touchdowns while also committing 18 fumbles.
Despite being plagued by an assortment of injuries, there was never any question about Pierce’s heart, toughness or character. Regardless of the ailment, he always returned to the field for his teammates.
And embarking on a coaching career in Winnipeg makes perfect sense. Not only did Pierce play for the Bombers, his fiancee is also from the Manitoba capital.
But O’Shea, a former standout linebacker who became Toronto’s special-teams coordinator following his stellar career with the Argonauts, said becoming a coach can present challenges for some former players.
“I’m sure Buck recognized early in his career the coaches were there before he was and were there after he left,” O’Shea said. “It’s always an eye-opener in terms of the planning and the number of tasks that are involved.
“But as the staff comes together in the off-season and gets going through the daily routine and has the specific tasks they’re charged with I’m sure he’ll get it all figured out quickly.”
O’Shea believes adding a former CFL quarterback to his coaching staff will provide added benefits as well.
“These guys play quarterback for a reason, they have the ability to take in all that information, process it and then put it all back out there,” O’Shea said.
“He’ll obviously do some work figuring out drills and finding out what his position group needs on a daily basis but he’ll also give that group a different perspective and understanding about how other positions are looking at the game and not just through the running back’s eyes.
“Any time a player can gain a better understanding of what the other positions are thinking out there is a good thing. That kind of knowledge only helps players produce.”