Win­nipeg weather cool with kicker

Med­lock con­fi­dent he will ex­cel in city’s sub-zero temps

SundayXtra - - NBA PLAYOFFS - By Paul Wiecek

SURE, he is the most ac­cu­rate field goal kicker in CFL his­tory, clock­ing in at a cool 87.5 per cent in his ca­reer.

But how good is Justin Med­lock when the foot­ball is frozen solid and a -20 C wind­chill is in his face, con­di­tions not un­com­mon in Win­nipeg when the foot­ball re­ally mat­ters in Novem­ber?

Let’s face it — the true test of a Blue Bombers kicker isn’t whether he can nail the 50-yarder on a gor­geous Fri­day night in Au­gust but whether he can hit the 28-yarder in mid-Novem­ber in a snow­storm and with the sea­son on the line.

Trevor Ken­nerd could do it. So could Troy West­wood. And, when it comes to punt­ing — which Med­lock is also ex­pected to han­dle for the Bombers in 2016 — no­body, ever, was bet­ter than Bob Cameron at kick­ing a frozen brick into a prairie wind.

And all three men are in the Bombers Hall of Fame be­cause of it.

But those three were all Cana­di­ans, born and bred, and had snow — in ad­di­tion to ice­wa­ter — in their veins.

The ques­tion now is whether the Cal­i­for­nia-born Med­lock, one of the Bombers most her­alded off-sea­son free agent sign­ings, can add some foot­ball ugly to all those beau­ti­ful sta­tis­tics he amassed as Mr. Au­to­matic through five CFL sea­sons, first with the Toronto Arg­onauts and more re­cently with the Hamil­ton Tiger- Cats.

Med­lock thinks he can, point­ing out he knows all about what play­ing in bru­tal Win­nipeg weather con­di­tions is like, hav­ing taken part as a mem­ber of the Ti­cats in the last CFL play­off game to be played in this city, the no­to­ri­ous — and ridicu­lously cold — 2011 East Di­vi­sion final won by the Bombers at Canad Inns Sta­dium.

“It was 7 Faren­heit, which is some­where around -25 C (with the wind­chill that day),” said Med­lock. “That was re­ally cold. The warmups were so cold and we didn’t have a heater. It was re­ally hard to get through that warmup. I tell ev­ery­one that story.

“I had a good game. I hit a big punt in the fourth quar­ter. But it was def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent.”

The Bombers paid Med­lock big money to lure him away from Hamil­ton in the off-sea­son and are hop­ing he is a quick and im­me­di­ate fix for a kick­ing game that was a dis­as­ter last sea­son, with key misses from a wildly er­ratic Lirim Ha­jrul­lahu ar­guably cost­ing the Bombers three vic­to­ries in 2015.

That’s a lot of pres­sure to put on Med­lock, but this is not a man lack­ing in con­fi­dence. Asked if he was feel­ing any pres­sure com­ing into Win­nipeg touted as the great­est CFL place-kicker ever, Med­lock didn’t miss a beat.

“No, that’s (what) I be­lieve,” replied Med­lock, mak­ing no apolo­gies for his self-con­fi­dence. “If you don’t think you’re the best, I don’t know what you’re do­ing in this league.”

Med­lock said he had his eye on Win­nipeg for some time as he con­sid­ered op­tions out­side of Hamil­ton and he’s been pleas­antly sur­prised by what he’s found now he’s here for the start of train­ing camp, which be­gins this morn­ing at In­vestors Group Field.

“You know what, I kind of thought this was go­ing to be a pretty small city, but it’s big­ger than I thought. And I like it. It’s nice. I re­ally like the city. I thought it would be on the smaller side, but it’s re­ally not that bad.

“It’s ac­tu­ally kind of sim­i­lar to Hamil­ton.” paul.wiecek@freep­ Twit­ter: @PaulWiecek


Suc­cess was strictly rou­tine for Justin Med­lock when he kicked for the Hamil­ton Tiger- Cats.

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