October 23, 2012

Irving: Pierce more than just a quarterback

He has become one of the most talked-about players in the CFL; and unfortunately, it’s not always in a manner he’d prefer.

Regardless of what might be said of him, Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce was back on the field in Week 17, and it should come as no surprise that his teammates came up with an inspired effort, defeating the Argonauts 44-32 on Friday night.

A true leader

In the dying moments of their Week 17 win over the Toronto Argonauts, Bombers QB Buck Pierce delivered an awe-inspiring speech in a huddle, one that impressed and motivated each of his teammates.

Pierce’s history of injury is well documented- too well documented for his liking – and whether he is “injury prone” or just one of the unluckiest athletes in North America is open to debate(I tend to lean to the latter.)  

What can’t be debated is Pierce’s competitive nature, and the abundant leadership qualities that he possesses. The Blue Bombers are a different team when Pierce is at the helm, and his teammates on both offence and defence testify to that on a regular basis.   

Running back Chad Simpson says an example of the intangibles Pierce provides came during a fire and brimstone lecture that he gave in the huddle in the dying seconds of the victory in Toronto.   

“Buck gave us a great speech, it was like something out of a movie, and I just looked around in the huddle, and everybody just wanted to be the guy to keep the drive going,” Simpson told the CJOB radio post-game show.    

“He told us to focus, and it was just how he said it and how he was looking at it. You could see it in his eyes, everything he said was from the heart, and you just wanted to be the guy to make the play.”  

The first-year tailback said it made his hair stand on end.
Simpson was one of the stars of the Bombers’ win at Rogers Center, running the ball for 136 of Winnipeg’s 260 rushing yards. Will Ford added 85 along the ground and quarterback Alex Brink, piloting a wildcat series, added 31.   

Pierce’s passing numbers were a modest 13 of 22 for 200 yards. But head coach Tim Burke gave the game ball to his quarterback, saying “his character, his leadership just shines through….the team was pumped for him, he just lifts this team up.”
Pierce defended the team and the Blue Bomber logo after the game.   

“A lot of people are talking about this organization and players in this locker room, saying not a lot of flattering things. We believe in each other and we believe in this locker room, and I believe we showed that tonight,” he said. 
“We played with some pride, a sense of urgency, and we closed the game out on offence and defence. This is a good team; it has just been one of those years when things haven’t gone our way.”
It certainly has been a tough year for the Bombers organization, and for Pierce, who has only been healthy for seven his team’s 16 games.  

But through it all, one thing remains irrefutable.  

Buck Pierce brings a passion and all those other leadership intangibles that the great leaders have, that you can never properly measure or quantify through any statistical measurement.   

And as Blue Bomber management wrestles with what changes to make for 2013, retaining Buck Pierce should be a slam dunk.