February 27, 2020

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Medlock welcomes pressure

CALGARY — Justin Medlock tries to visualize everything about a football game in advance — from the opening coin flip to the dramatic game-ending play.

So it should come as no big surprise that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker admits he’s spent some time this week thinking of what a Grey Cup-winning field goal might look like.

Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press</p><p>Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Justin Medlock says he’s already spent some time this week thinking of what a Grey Cup-winning field goal might look like.</p>

Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Justin Medlock says he’s already spent some time this week thinking of what a Grey Cup-winning field goal might look like.

"That’d be great. If it came down to that, where you get a chance to win the Grey Cup and I’m in that position, obviously, I’m pretty confident," Medlock told the Free Press on Thursday.

He’s confident for a good reason. Medlock has proven to be money no matter the size of the stage, including a perfect 4-for-4 performance last Sunday in Regina as the Bombers beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 20-13 in the CFL’s West Division final.

The 36-year-old from California is trying to treat the upcoming league championship game like any other, even though it’s obviously not.

"I never make the situation bigger than it needs to be. I’m always a process over outcome guy," he said. "It’s all about how much pressure you put on yourself. To me, I try to keep it all the same. From the first kick to the end of a game. Obviously they’re different, different situations, you know which ones are bigger. But that just makes you focus in a lot harder."

He would welcome the pressure of having the game on his foot, so to speak.

"I’m always just trying to be comfortable being uncomfortable," he said. "If we win by 30, then that’s how it is. However we get the win, and whatever we need, I’ll be ready to step up."

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Nick Taylor is one of a handful of Bombers players to know what it’s like to raise the Grey Cup. The 31-year-old linebacker from Florida won it all with the Ottawa Redblacks in 2016.

That said, Taylor was careful not to touch the trophy that was on display at Thursday’s media day, instead crowding around the Grey Cup with some teammates to take some pictures.

"Not until the end," Taylor said of the unwritten rule. He’s hoping to get his hands on it once again on Sunday — and is doing everything he can to share his experience with those who haven’t tasted a CFL championship.

"Don’t change what you do. Don’t come up here and change up who you are and what you did before," Taylor said. "When it’s time to roll, let’s go. There will come a time when you’re feeling some anxiety, some nervousness. That’s a good thing. But don’t let that overtake what you do on the field."

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Bombers defensive co-ordinator Richie Hall will be wearing a heavy heart when he hits the field Sunday.

While his focus will be on playcalling against a formidable Hamilton Tiger-Cats offence, his brother, Michael, who died from a heart attack on Oct. 2 in Colorado, won’t be far from his thoughts.

"My brother’s with me because he was going to come up to the Grey Cup if we would have made it," Hall said. "But he’s still here. He’s just not here physically, but he’s here mentally and emotionally. So, just go out there and just be thankful for the opportunity for these guys to win a championship."

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Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill said it’s not coincidence the two teams left standing in the CFL also have the tightest locker rooms, led by coaches that players would do anything for.

"Because at the end of the day, I’ve seen and been on teams that are very, very talented that didn’t quite get the job done. And the difference was how tight we were and how well we played together, how well we communicated, how much time we spent with each other, outside of football," he said. "Knowing our locker room, how we play, our camaraderie on and off the field, and how we connect in the locker room, it’s unlike any team in I’ve been on, so I know for a fact that’s a huge, huge part of our success."

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

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Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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