The Winnipeg Blue Bombers may have retained the majority of their veteran core for 2021, but it looks like a key piece of their Grey Cup championship squad won’t be returning for kick-off.
As first reported by Darrin Bauming, head coach Mike O’Shea let slip in a media availability Friday that the team is not expecting the game-changing leg of American kicker Justin Medlock to return. Instead a young Canadian is expected to assume the role.
“Sounds like Justin Medlock will not return to the Bombers. Big shoes for Canadian rookie Marc Liegghio to fill,” Bauming tweeted. “However, Mike O’Shea says they are not asking Lieggio to replace Medlock – they’re asking him to ‘come in and be Marc.'”
A former fifth round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2007, Medlock signed with the Toronto Argonauts in April 2009 and won the placekicking and punting jobs out of training camp. He connected of 40-of-46 field goal attempts (87 percent) and averaged 42.6 yards on 117 punts, again catching the attention of the NFL.
The six-foot, 205-pounder spent brief stints with the Washington Football Team and Detroit Lions, before returning to Toronto. He was released late in the season and signed with Edmoton, before being traded to Hamilton that March.
Medlock played brilliantly for the Ticats, making 49-of-55 field goal attempts (89.1 percent) with a long of 57 yards. Named an East Division all-star, the NFL came calling again. After ten starts for the Carolina Panthers and a cup of coffee in Oakland, Medlock returned to the Hammer for two seasons, making 86-of-97 field goal attempts (88.7 percent) with a long of 57 yards. He was named an East Division all-star again in 2015, which led to a payday in free agency.
Mike O’Shea, who was Medlock’s special teams coordinator during his second stint in Toronto, helped bring the elite kicker to Winnipeg. Medlock has been money ever since, connecting on 205-of-228 field goal attempts (89.9 percent) with a long of 58 yards.
Long rumoured to be among the veteran players leaning towards retirement during the canceled 2020 season, Medlock ends his career as one of the all-time greats in terms of accuracy and leg strength. For his career, he made 377-of-436 field goal attempts (86.5 percent), while averaging 42.8 yards per kick on 857 career punts. He was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player in 2016.
His presumptive replacement, Marc Liegghio, was a fifth-round selection in the 2020 CFL Deraft who holds the all-time U Sports record for most career field goals following a prolific four years at Western University. He was named a U Sports first-team All-Canadian in 2019 as both placekicker and punter.
The native of Woodbridge, Ont. connected on 115-of-137 career field goal attempts (83.9 percent) with a long of 50 yards. He also averaged 47.5 yards per punt in his final year with the Mustangs.