April 23, 2011
The CFL offseason isn't really much of a break for many players, as they have to spend a lot of time training and working out if they want to keep their jobs when the season gets rolling; many also work at other jobs when football isn't in session. They do get to do some cool things you wouldn't normally see during the season, though, and one recent example is the day Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Buck Pierce recently spent as the sports editor of The Winnipeg Sun, filling in for Ted Wyman.
On many fronts, Pierce would seem to have the sportswriting gig down. After all, his written summary of the day starts with two single-sentence paragraphs, a device beloved by some sportswriters and ceaselessly mocked by many of the rest of us. He's also mastered the art of tweaking those who don't agree with him, as the video accompanying the Sun story shows; Pierce draws up a play on the newsroom whiteboard and tells columnist Paul Friesen (who's been pretty critical of the team at times over the years) "We're going to keep you out here. Run a route by yourself, try not to get hurt and stay out of the way. We probably won't throw you the football, so just do whatever you want." He also appears to have found at least some measure of objectivity, as the sports section that day didn't contain stories along the lines of "Bombers declared greatest team ever" and "Riders punished for being from Saskatchewan". Pierce later told Sun TV that he felt he'd made an impact on the staff in his short time as their boss:
"I've been tough on them," Pierce (pictured above in an August 2010 game against Hamilton) said. "I don't know if they can go back to Ted after what I've done. I've set a precedent."
Friesen managed to get a parting shot at Pierce in towards the end of the video, though, referencing the quarterback's notorious injury history.
"If you're wondering, Pierce made it through the day without getting hurt."
All kidding aside, these sorts of things aren't necessarily a bad idea. Sure, it's a bit of a publicity stunt for both Pierce and the Sun, but Pierce probably gained a bit of an appreciation for how hard the writers work and where they're coming from, and they probably gained some respect for him as a person. He also brought a valuable perspective from someone currently inside the game, which particularly came out on the audio podcast he did with Wyman and Friesen when he discussed the Bombers' recent offseason voluntary workout (or minicamp), something new they're doing this year that many other teams aren't. Here are some of Pierce's thoughts on the camp, from that audio podcast:
"Minicamp was great. It's such a long offseason, and you know, [it's] to bring some guys in, some young guys, let them get a taste for what we do offensively, and compete. We brought in some veteran defensive backs and some of these young guys got a taste of what the CFL's like. It's a great experience, and it's good for everyone to start talking football again."
Pierce said it was particularly important for him to get in a rhythm with some of the receivers the Bombers acquired after his season-ending injury last year:
"Training camp's short. It's three weeks and then you're right into the games. Any time you can bring guys together, talk football and start working on football, it's huge; for me, especially, because I didn't get to throw to guys like Greg Carr last year. He's such a talent. We have to make sure we utilize him the right way and make sure we're on the same page going forward."
There's some valuable insight there from a guy who knows what it's like on the inside of the CFL, and that's never a bad thing. Perhaps Pierce has a media future once his playing days are done. For now, though, he's probably more interested in pigskins and points than pens and print.