Once, Greg Peach recalled, a veteran player said if you don't get hurt, you're either playing wrong or getting lucky -- and Peach has not been lucky.
For five years of a CFL career, the 6-3, 255-pound defensive end has been battered by injuries. In 2010, he lost most of his second year with the Edmonton Eskimos to a battered ankle -- though he still managed to notch 28 tackles and four sacks. This season, he played in the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' season opener before a bad hamstring forced him to sit a few games. By the time he was ready, a fresher pass rusher had jumped up to take his place.
'He's tough, and he's blue-collar... Bringing a guy like Greg Peach in... that's a message to our locker-room that hey, we're going to play hard around here. We might get beat but we're going to play hard and we're going to give these fans what they deserve'
-- Casey Creehan
He doesn't shy from talking about what this has done to his career.
"(Injuries) have hampered it, for sure," Peach said on Thursday, his first day practising with the Blue and Gold. "That just comes with the territory. I know when I'm on the field I can be productive, and hopefully I can do that for us."
That's what the Bombers brought him in for, and they think they know what he can do. Last season, Peach played under now-Bombers defensive co-ordinator Casey Creehan's system in Hamilton and registered 36 tackles and tied the team lead with six sacks in 15 games. He believes he can do that again, especially coming into a defence he knows so well.
"When I got released, I automatically thought maybe I could play for coach Creehan again," Peach said of being cut this week by Hamilton. "I'm excited to be a part of it, playing with some vets that can get to the QB. Even if I'm rotating, doesn't matter to me, as long as I get to play."
Getting to play: that's the first thing on Peach's mind now, after making it through the first cut of his career. With the CFL's deadline day looming -- the ninth-game deadline by which teams must cut their veterans, or pay them for the full year -- and Peach sitting on the sidelines in Hamilton, he saw the axe coming. When it fell it wasn't a surprise but it was still a shock, in a way.
"I don't ever want to be a free agent again," Peach said. "It's not very fun... when it happened it was obviously sad. I've never been released my entire career. But it wasn't, I don't think, as hard because it didn't really blindside me as much as it does other guys."
On the plus side, his stay on the free agent wire was brief. Creehan called the newly freed defensive end right away, and though other teams were sniffing too, it was Winnipeg who Peach felt wanted him the most. Besides, he sort of wanted them, too.
"I'm just really honoured to be here," he said.
Good thing, because Peach is likely to slide right in against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday. Though he has to polish up his knowledge of Creehan's system, he knows the terminology and the plays. And where Peach admits he's not a "freakish athlete" but a darn hard worker, Creehan tended to agree.
"He's tough and he's blue-collar," Creehan said. "After the performance we put out there the first quarter of last week, we had guys turning down hits, we had guys not running to the ball. We played uninspired football and we aren't going to tolerate it.
"Bringing a guy like Greg Peach in, I know that he will play balls to the wall, 100 miles an hour every snap. That's a message to our locker-room that hey, we're going to play hard around here. We might get beat but we're going to play hard and we're going to give these fans what they deserve."