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Bomber QB Pierce will not play Monday; didn't play with 'headache': Burke

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Bombers starting quarterback Buck Pierce has not been cleared by team medical staff and will not play Monday in Montreal against the Alouettes.

But Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke also had something else on his mind.

"Buck will not be the starting quarterback this week. It's been determined through the collaboration of data from our medical people that he won't be suiting up this week. Whether he suits up next week is up to them (medical staff)," Burke said.

"And I want to clarify something. Buck was quoted as saying that he had a headache when he went into the game, he said it to me the same way he probably said to you guys, he meant he had jaw pain and facial pain. He was cleared by our doctors to go back in the game because he did not have any symptoms that affected his brain. His jaw obviously did hurt and he had stitches."

Burke said Pierce used the term "headache" for how he was feeling during the game when what he meant was pain to his face and jaw area.

"He said it to me too and I said, 'Well that's your problem, listen to what you just said.' And he said, 'Yeah, you're right, I should have said facial pain, or jaw or whatever.' That's what he meant."

Pierce, who was not made available for comment after Thursday's practice, suffered a concussion during last Saturday’s 29-10 loss to the Toronto Argonauts as the result of a helmet-to-head hit delivered by Argos linebacker Brandon Isaac, for which he was fined by the CFL on Wednesday. The top of Isaac's helmet hit Pierce in the chin, cutting him. Pierce left the game in the first quarter for stitches and returned to play in the game during the second quarter.

Reports from Burke after the game were that Pierce developed the "headache," which is a concussion-related symptom, during the second quarter, and was taken out of the game and he did not return in the second half.

Burke's concern seems to be that he wants it to be known that the Bombers medical staff did not allow Pierce to be playing in the game when he had a concussion-related symptom. Pierce was allowed to go back into the game because it was jaw pain and facial pain, which would be expected after such a hit.

Pierce was diagnosed with a concussion on Tuesday after a series of tests by the Bombers medical staff and a neurologist. He had not passed all of the tests needed to gain clearance to play and still has not.

"It's really close but I'm not going to get in the predictions of when he's going to come back," Burke said. "Alain (Bombers head athletic therapist Couture) said it was a collaboration of data, it wasn't just one single test. I might have probably misspoken saying it was just one test because that's what Buck said so I'm not going to quote him anymore."

Bombers offensive lineman Steve Morley told media that Pierce has said he will pay all $900 of the fines levied by the CFL on Morley, centre Justin Sorensen and defensive back Jovon Johnson for their actions as a result of the hit on Pierce.

Burke said on Tuesday that backup Joey Elliott will start for the 3-10 Bombers if Pierce was unable to go.

CFL Concussion Guidelines

The CFL Concussion Guidelines are based on consensus from the 3rd International Conference on Concussions in Sport held in Zurich, November 2008.

(1) The CFL Concussion Guideline statement reviews best practices for neurocognitive baseline testing, concussion assessment, concussion management and return to play decisions.


1. All players are to undergo a preseason baseline concussion assessment. This will include baseline cognitive screening, balance testing and symptom score and should be based on evaluation provided in SCAT2. This may or may not occur yearly but at minimum, a preseason baseline assessment every 3 years while taking into account changes in the players concussion history.

2. When a player shows any signs or symptoms of a concussion as a result of impact to the head or body, he should be removed from play and medically evaluated.

Concussion assessment includes the use of a standardized evaluation tool (SCAT2) that addresses clinical symptoms, physical signs, behavioral changes and cognitive impairment.

Once removed the player should not be considered to return to football activities until he is asymptomatic at rest and exertion, has gone through a graded rehab program, and is cleared to return by his team physician experienced in concussion management.

3. Concussion management includes physical and cognitive rest until symptoms resolve, a graded return to activity and medical clearance from a team physician that is experienced in concussion management.

4. Concussion return to play decisions are based on the completion of a graded, stepwise activity progression. The player is allowed to proceed to the next exercise level if he completes and is asymptomatic at the present level. The final step in return to play is clearance by a team physician.

The CFL Concussion Guidelines are in place to ensure the safety and wellness of our players.

They are based on experienced and supported principles. These guidelines are a work in progress and will continue to evolve and build as new evidence is introduced.


Updated on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 2:52 PM CDT: Updates following press conference

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