Winnipeg weather cool with kicker
Medlock confident he will excel in city’s sub-zero temps
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.” email@example.com Twitter: @PaulWiecek
Success was strictly routine for Justin Medlock when he kicked for the Hamilton Tiger- Cats.