Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Veteran Kicker Paul McCallum Comes out of Retirement to Rejoin B.C. Lions

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Veteran Kicker Paul McCallum Comes out of Retirement to Rejoin B.C. Lions

Article excerpt

Veteran kicker McCallum rejoins B.C. Lions

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SURREY, B.C. - Paul McCallum hadn't touched a football since retiring when he answered his phone on Sunday.

By Tuesday morning, he was back kicking with the B.C. Lions.

The 46-year-old has rejoined the playoff-bound CFL club with a game left in the regular season after Richie Leone's troubles with field goals and converts reached its breaking point over the weekend.

"I had come to terms with my football career (being) over," said McCallum, who spent last season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders before retiring as a Lion in March. "Mentally I had moved on from it."

The Vancouver native played 23 CFL seasons, including 11 with B.C. from 1993-1994 and then again from 2006-2014. He has also suited up for 11 playoff games and two Grey Cups, winning in both 2006 and 2011 with the Lions.

And while he hadn't booted a football in ages, McCallum said he has stayed active.

"Kicking soccer balls with my daughter," he said. "I feel pretty good. We'll see what happens.

"It's a ball. I've been kicking since I was four, so I figure I'll be OK."

What hasn't been OK in 2016 for the Lions is Leone's ability to hit field goals and converts.

An excellent punter with an average of 49.3 yards, the 24-year-old has struggled with place kicking. He missed two converts, as well as field goal attempts of 30 and 45 yards, in B.C.'s 24-6 road win over Saskatchewan on Saturday. He has hit on just 35-of-51 of his field goal attempts (68.6 per cent) this season.

Lions head coach and general manager Wally Buono said that Leone will still handle punts and kickoffs, while McCallum will line up for field goals inside the 50-yard line.

"I don't see it as desperation," said Buono, who added Leone could still be called on for longer kicks. "At certain points you've got to move forward. We're moving forward. We were fortunate to have Paul here."

Coincidentally, it was Leone's presence that ended McCallum's last stint with the Lions at training camp in 2015. Former head coach Jeff Tedford wanted one player to handle all three facets of the kicking game, and McCallum found himself on the outside looking in.

Despite that potentially awkward situation, McCallum and Leone became friends during their brief time as teammates and remained close afterwards, with the former offering the player who took his job tips on their craft. …

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