An emotional Buck Pierce poured out his affection for Winnipeg at a press conference Monday, a day after the Blue Bombers announced the popular quarterback was being traded back to the B.C. Lions.
Pierce thanked the fans for their support and said the trade caught him off guard.
"I was sad at first," he said. "Because I know what this place and this community means to me."
Pierce said he wished he'd been able to accomplish more with the Bombers.
"I would have hoped that we had a couple Grey Cups and things would have gone a bit different," he said.
Bombers' acting general manager Kyle Walters thanked Pierce for his time with the team, but said the trade is about the Bombers looking forward.
"We are going in a different direction with the younger guys," he said. "We had five quarterbacks under contract and it was very difficult to get guys rep and moving forward. It just didn't seem fair."
Pierce said he's looking forward to putting his skills to use in BC, but he plans to keep his roots here.
"It's a place I want to be," he said. "I will be here in the off-season. I will call it home."
The 31-year-old made his CFL debut with B.C. in 2005 and spent five seasons with the Lions before moving to Winnipeg as a free agent in 2010.
He has been a popular person in the community, living in the city year-round and making numerous public appearances, and becoming involved in some business ventures.
But professionally, he has struggled with injuries throughout his career and became known as glass quarterback.
He made just 31 starts over four seasons. In that time, the Bombers played 72 regular season games, one playoff game and a Grey Cup appearance.
Pierce helped lead to Bombers to that 2011 Grey Cup game, which they lost 34-23 to the Lions.
In his career, he has 1,179 career completions for 15,059 yards and 73 touchdowns against 62 interceptions.