Baldwin's Ian Wild finds football home north of border
In the profile picture for his official Twitter account, Ian Wild is wearing a garment that's half football uniform, half business suit.
When he's not crunching opposing ball-carriers as a linebacker for the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers, he's crunching numbers.
Wild has been working as a financial advisor since being released from the Buffalo Bills' camp in 2012. But for the past five years, it has been a part-time gig as he built a successful football career north of the border.
That career will last a little longer after Wild, a product of Baldwin and Mercyhurst, recently signed a one-year contract extension with Winnipeg.
Wild, who lives in Wexford, said he was lucky enough to find a company that allows him to split time between football and finances. He said he also feels lucky to get another shot with the Bombers after his 2017 season was shortened by a broken right wrist.
“It was definitely a good feeling that they wanted me back,” he said. “I did get back on the roster at the end of the year, and I kind of re-established myself. That made me feel good going into the offseason.”
In limited duty last season, Wild (6-feet, 213 pounds) had 14 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
He was coming off arguably his best season in 2016, when he registered 70 tackles, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.
That made his injury woes of '17 even more frustrating.
“I had a good year the year before,” he said. “And I was looking to build on that and take it to the next level and establish myself as one of the top linebackers in the CFL.”
Wild had one other shot at establishing himself in the NFL. In 2015, he was a training camp darling with his hometown Steelers but didn't make the final cut.
But his desire to play in the NFL has waned. He said he is happy playing in Canada and sees the same Western Pennsylvania-type enthusiasm for football in Winnipeg.
“Ninety percent of the cities that have a CFL team are hard-core,” he said. “The fans in Winnipeg are similar to the fans in Pittsburgh on Sundays: Everyone born and raised in Pittsburgh is either at a tailgate party or watching the game. It's the same in Winnipeg.”
Wild, who will turn 28 next month, said he hopes to play in Canada for several more years, and he wouldn't mind doing so with the Blue Bombers. In 2013, his rookie year, the Bombers were a CFL-worst 3-15 but were 12-6 and in the playoffs last season.
He would like to take it a step further and bring a Grey Cup back to his football home.
“The last two years, we've made the playoffs, and we've had a better record every year (I've been here),” he said. “To stick with a team through tough times and get to the point where you're a playoff contender, it would be something to see that all the way through to win a championship.”