Canadian Football League

Monday, October 10, 2005

Pierce enjoying life in the Canadian Football League

The magic carpet ride continues.
Imagine yourself as a 23-year-old young adult and being in the position of knowing exactly how you want to make a living, but facing obstacles at every turn.
Now imagine facing that type of adversity and those challenges, but doing so in a foreign country.
That was the situation Buck Pierce faced after signing a three-year contract with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League back in May after having gone through rigorous workouts and training camps with several National Football League teams, only to be passed over during the seven-round draft weekend.
”When I came here after playing at New Mexico State not very many people had heard of me,” Pierce said. “I wasn’t even expected to make the roster because I was behind two former most valuable players (Dave Dickensen and Casey Printers) and one who had just been with the Denver Broncos (Jarious Jackson). I was brought in as someone who would just take reps in practice.
”There are guys on this team who have been in the NFL and are now just finishing their careers up here in Canada. It’s kind of weird to be around these guys, and it’s overwhelming to be playing in a league with so much talent,” he said. “For a person who has never seen a game or experienced the CFL, it’s just the same as the NFL is in the states.”
Aside from the football aspect of his new surroundings, Pierce faced an equally daunting challenge completely away from the football field as the small town boy who grew up in Gasquet, California had to now either sink or swim completely on his own.
Although the transitions were tough in the early going, Pierce has finally found his niche.
”It’s a huge difference for me being in a city of two million people,” he said. “The lifestyle is so new to me and there is so much more to do here than what I’ve been used to.”
Having settled just outside of Vancouver in a town called White Rock, Pierce said he sees definite parallels between his new adopted community and the one which he called home growing up.
”I couldn’t ask for a better community than the one I’m living in here,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s any better than where I grew up, it’s just different. It’s a really cool feeling to be recognized wherever I go,” he said. “We’re big-time up here, and everything we do is watched.”
It would seem to the casual observer that this kind of pressure and living life under a microscope would be daunting at best and debilitating at worst, but Pierce has a different take on the situation.
”I’m one of the youngest guys in this league, not just on my team, so I knew I had to come in and prove myself against quality competition when I got here,” he said. “I’ve played this game for a long time now, so I had the confidence in myself that I could make it if I were just given a shot.”
That belief in himself, along with his knowledge of the game and natural athletic ability got the attention of his Lions’ teammates and coaches quickly.
”People started to realize that hey, here’s this 23-year-old kid who can run, has a good arm, is smart and makes good decisions,” Pierce said. “It helps that I’m able to use my athletic ability to move around because this is a quarterback’s league up here. If you watch a CFL game, the teams that are able to have success are the ones who are able to make plays and be productive on first down.”
With the learning curve now at least manageable and having gained game experience throughout the Lions’ preseason, all of the lessons learned were tested on the big stage in a week six contest with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on the road in Regina.
”The province has a population of close to 200,000 and the stadium has 50,000-60,000 people in it for every game, so we were playing in a really hostile environment,”
Pierce said.
That wasn’t the half of it, as the Lions, who came into the contest with a 5-0 record, trailed 15-5 heading into the fourth quarter and appeared on the verge of suffering their first loss of the season.
Enter Pierce.
”Casey (Printers) had gone down and the coaches decided to go with me in the fourth quarter,” he said. “I just went out and got the job done”
That “job” as Pierce modestly puts it involved engineering two touchdown drives in a four-minute period as the Lions overcame the deficit and pulled out a 19-15 victory.
”It was an incredible feeling to get that win,” he said. “I knew I could play, but I earned a lot of confidence from my teammates and coaches for the way I responded to that kind of game pressure.”
Although those sort of heroics and that kind of extended playing time have been few and far between, Pierce is well aware of the big picture.
”I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be in there taking every snap,” he said. “It’s hard not being able to showcase what I can do every game. I knew it would be a long road, but I honestly didn’t think it (having success) would come so fast.”
Even though he has achieved modest success in his rookie season, the lessons he’s learned from teammates as well as his own personal experience have been just as if not more important.
”It’s not like college in the sense that I don’t have to go to class every day anymore and there aren’t as many demands on my time outside of football, but this is a business and it can be cutthroat at times,” he said. “I know what I have to do every day, and I know that it’s either do my job and know my stuff or there will always be someone out there waiting to take my place.”


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