Adam Bighill wants to take care of some unfinished business. Not for him, but for his Winnipeg Blue Bombers teammates.
The all-star linebacker signed a two-year contract extension with the Blue Bombers on Tuesday to avoid becoming a free agent in February. The 34-year-old Bighill said he wants to finish out his CFL career in Winnipeg and help his teammates to another Grey Cup after a shocking 24-23 loss to the Toronto Argonauts in the title game on Nov. 20.
"It's not necessarily personal but it's definitely unfinished with the guys in the room, my teammates," said Bighill on a conference call with reporters. "This last year didn't end the way we wanted it to, a point away from going into overtime.
"A lot of things could have gone differently for us in that game."
Winnipeg finished the regular season with a CFL-best 15-3 record and beat the B.C. Lions 28-20 in the West Division final to advance to its third-straight Grey Cup. Although the Blue Bombers were heavy favourites heading into the championship game, Toronto blocked a field goal in the fourth quarter for the victory.
"I think part of the issue is we had we had a good team, we arguably had the best team in the CFL," said Bighill. "For a lot of reasons, you can argue that and then we were not the best on Grey Cup Sunday. We know that's a fact, right?"
Bighill's hand was bandaged up during the conference call and he said he'd been "moderately injured" late in the loss to the Argonauts. He said he broke his hand in a pile on but that surgery would not be required.
Tuesday's deal means that Bighill will return for a fifth season in Winnipeg and 11th in the CFL.
Bighill led the Blue Bombers in total defensive plays in 2022, with 72 tackles, two sacks, one interception and one tackle for a loss. He was named a West Division all-star for the eighth time in his career and a CFL Players’ Association all-star for a fifth time.
A three-time winner of the CFL’s outstanding defensive player award, earning the honour in 2015, 2018 and 2021, Bighill could have had his pick of teams to sign with if he had tested free agency. However, Bighill said he knows that Blue Bombers general manager Kyle Walters has built something special in Winnipeg.
"Chasing a potentially higher contract in free agency just isn't worth the risk of not being in a good situation," said Bighill. "I know what I have here in Winnipeg. I know, the guys in the room, I know some of the guys are already locked up for long-term deals, I know the coaching staff. There's a lot of comfortability there."
A three-time Grey Cup champion — 2019 and 2021 with the Blue Bombers and 2011 with the B.C. Lions — Bighill has played in 164 games in his CFL career, including 65 over the last four seasons in Winnipeg.
He said that in the nine days since the Blue Bombers' Grey Cup loss he has spoken with many of his teammates, and that they're all motivated to win another Grey Cup.
"We know how good we are and what we have in our locker room, and the special things that are still yet to come," he said. "I still want to be a part of that and that's the unfinished business."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2022.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press