Veteran linebacker Adam Bighill signed a two-year contract extension with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Tuesday, which will expire after he turns 36. He plans to play out both years of his new deal and won’t rule out the possibility of playing even after it expires.
“I take care of my body and I train in a way that I do feel that I’m younger than many players actually playing in the league and how their bodies feel and how they perform,” the six-time CFL all-star told the media via videoconference.
“I do feel that I have a distinct advantage there and I think it is displayed in the way I play the game. I don’t feel as if my body athletically or anything has dropped down or decreased. If anything, I’ve found ways to get better.”
The second year of Bighill’s extension includes guaranteed money, which means Winnipeg would face financial ramifications if they released him partway through the deal. The CFL Players’ Association, with whom Bighill serves as a vice-president, secured the right for veterans to negotiate partially guaranteed contracts on multiyear deals during the latest round of CBA negotiations this spring.
The 34-year-old was named a West Division all-star for an eighth time this past season after recording 72 tackles, two sacks, and one interception over 18 games. He has already done enough to guarantee himself a spot in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, likely as a first-ballot inductee. Though he welcomes the opportunity to achieve more personal accolades, his primary goal is to help his team be successful.
“Sure, it’d be great to have another defensive player of the year honour or a very high stat year. Those things would all be great, but they aren’t the goal at hand per se that I need to achieve or it’s a ‘must-have.’ Those are a byproduct of the work that I put in, a little bit of luck here and there, and just making some plays that maybe others aren’t making. At the end of the day, personally, this is about me still wanting to compete at a very high level and still feel like I can help this team win at a very high level.”
Bighill spoke to a number of his teammates this year regarding his impact on the field and his ability to positively impact the play of those around him. He received positive reviews from those he asked, which he considers a sign he still has plenty left to give even after ten seasons in the CFL.
“The guys in the room had great things to say, good guys I respect to get their opinion and it just validates once again why I do what I do,” he said. “Being able to help the guys in our locker room be the best that they can be, that is definitely a personal mission of mine, no matter what happens with anything else.”
Bighill was wearing a cast on his left hand during the interview, which he revealed was due to a broken bone he suffered late in the Grey Cup. He said the injury bothered him “moderately,” though he would have stayed in the game even if it had occurred during the regular season. The injury will not require surgery to heal.
The three-time CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player has already won three championships but lamented the club’s recent loss to the Toronto Argonauts in the 109th Grey Cup. He feels the club has unfinished business next year after narrowly missing an opportunity to win a third straight title.
“This last year didn’t end the way we wanted it to. We were one point away from going into overtime and a lot of things could have went differently for us in that game. We know how good we are and what we have in our locker room and the special things that are still yet to come. I still want to be a part of that and that’s the unfinished business. There’s a lot of good things still yet to come and I’m looking forward to those things.”
Bighill is one of many veterans to sign contract extensions early this off-season alongside offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld and defensive end Willie Jefferson. The club’s head coach, Mike O’Shea, reportedly agreed to a three-year contract extension late on Tuesday.