January 12, 2018

Wild About Winnipeg: Bombers LB happy to be back

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

Ian Wild trades in his helmet and shoulder pads every off-season for a suit and tie, morphing from a linebacker with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers into a financial adviser in Pittsburgh.

Safe to say, then, that the man knows a thing or two about the dollar figures that go on a new contract – like the one-year deal he officially signed with the Bombers on Monday – and how they relate to the business of pro football.

And sometimes chasing a title on a team surrounded by friends can be priceless.

“Being in the financial industry, I talk to people all the time about risk and return,” said Wild Monday from his office in Pittsburgh. “Sometimes the risk isn’t worth it if you just want the peace of mind that your money is going to be there. There are stable investments that can give you that.

“Money-wise… it’s nice to make good money and play for what you’re worth, but it’s also important to be on a good team where I have a lot of friends. There’s a lot of positives being with one team. Stuff like that is important to me.”

Wild extending with the Bombers could be billed as a stable investment for both sides; the veteran linebacker knows his skill-set and quiet leadership is valued by Bomber brass, who in turn made no secret of their desire to have him return in 2018 in exit meetings last November.

Wild’s injury history aside, the Bombers know that when he is healthy, he is an assignment-sound, versatile linebacker who can stuff the run and drop back into coverage.

Wild missed all but five games in 2017 after suffering a gruesome hand injury. The Bombers were able to succeed without him, but with Maurice Leggett coming of an Achilles injury and headed to free agency along with Kyle Knox and Sam Hurl, Wild’s return means at least one familiar face from last year’s crew will be back this season.

“I dislocated my wrist… there are a bunch of small bones in the wrist and I guess you could say I dislocated my hand from my arm,” he said. “I tore the ligaments and they had to go in for surgery and sew everything back in place. It was pretty nasty. But that stuff happens. It was a freak accident and the way I play that stuff is going to happen.

“It was tough because you don’t really think of a wrist or hand injury as a major injury. But it was hard and seeing how well the team was doing made it frustrating not being able out there to try and help.”

Ian Wild tackles Riders running back Cameron Marshall during a game in 2017 (Matt Smith/CFL.ca)

Wild has long had his roots in Pennsylvania – he’s from Pittsburgh and played his college ball at Mercyhurst in Erie – and had a tryout as a safety with his hometown Steelers back in 2015, after his first two seasons with Winnipeg.

His wife Megan is a teacher and the couple are expecting their first child, a boy, in April. All of that had him wondering about taking one more shot at the NFL this winter, but the security and the pull from Winnipeg were significant factors in his decision to return.

“I talked to (Bombers GM) Kyle (Walters) when the season ended and they said they were interested in bringing me back and I wanted to come back to Winnipeg,” said Wild. “Since I’m going to be 28 (in March) I figured this might be my last shot at the NFL and so my agent did put some feelers out there. But there wasn’t really enough to persuade me from coming back to Winnipeg. As much as I would have liked to play in front of family and friends and near my hometown, I really like the CFL and Winnipeg.

“I’ve been there when times weren’t very good and now that we’re an annual playoff contender, I feel like I want to be there to see it through and be a part of it when Winnipeg does win a Grey Cup.”