Look, Buck Pierce would tell you he's ready to play while holding his helmet by his side -- with his head still inside it.
"It's like that old Monty Python movie where they chop off the arms, they chop off the legs -- that'd be Buck," Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke said with a laugh Wednesday.
The Black Knight, of course, famously waved off his injuries as just a "flesh wound" in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Pierce, who has a similarly unique combination of ridiculous mental toughness combined with ridiculous physical frailty, is probably among the few people who doesn't get that infamous cinematic gag.
And so it is understandable the forgotten man in this forgettable Bombers season is frustrated and angry right now he is being prevented -- by injury and by the Bombers training staff -- for the seventh straight game from doing anything to help his beleaguered teammates.
If ever there was a club in need of a knight on a horse to ride in and save the day, it's this one. But this particular saviour -- if he even is that -- is still limping and not yet ready, at least according to the Bombers training staff, to ride again.
It is eating Pierce apart, as quickly became evident in an interview on Wednesday following practice, where the man who is the face of this franchise was reduced to the role of pretending to be Saskatchewan Roughriders QB Darian Durant for the Winnipeg defence to practise against.
"I've been frustrated for the last six weeks. Just because I'm not out there -- it frustrates the hell out of me," said Pierce. "I'm paid to do a job -- that's to be the quarterback of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. And if I can't do that, of course it's upsetting. Frustrated is an understatement. I'm not saying if I was out there, things would be different. I can't speak for anything like that.
"It's frustrating to watch. It's frustrating to be injured. Because I know some of the experience I can bring and some of the leadership qualities I can bring to this team."
Pierce has been sidelined with a foot injury since Week 3 and has been practising sporadically the past couple weeks, leading to speculation -- particularly after his team got thumped 52-0 in Regina last Sunday to fall to 2-7 -- that Pierce might be back at the controls this Sunday in the Banjo Bowl rematch.
But Burke quickly ruled out that possibility on Tuesday, saying Pierce isn't yet healthy enough to play and announcing Joey Elliott would get his fourth straight start.
"He's just not ready to go yet, but he's getting close," Burke said of Pierce. "It could be next week, I don't know."
Pierce was asked if he felt he was healthy enough to play.
"I always feel like I can go out and gut out a victory and help the team win in any way possible," Pierce replied. "Is it the smartest thing to do? I don't know. It's not my call -- that's the thing. It's not up to me. It hasn't been up to me ever. They've never once came to me, 'what's taking so long, what is it?' It's all been through the trainer. That's something they monitor, not me...
"It is what it is. They make those decisions. They're the coaches, I'm the player. I do what I'm told and I worry about the things that I can control and that's getting healthy and getting back and being ready to go when I am back. Am I angry? I'm angry we're 2-7. If I was healthy and I was feeling OK, it would be different. I'm frustrated because I can't contribute.
"But I'm not angry at anybody. It's just a tough situation."
The only thing that's been consistent in Elliott's play the last three weeks has been its regression in each game. Pierce's backup was asked Wednesday why fans should think this Sunday will somehow yield a different result.
"They just have to believe in us -- plain and simple," Elliott replied.