Westwood gets booted

Former Blue Bomber kicker Troy Westwood looks sad while talking about leaving the club. SUN...

Former Blue Bomber kicker Troy Westwood looks sad while talking about leaving the club. SUN MEDIA/Chris Procaylo

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

The soap opera surrounding a Blue Bombers icon ended abruptly yesterday.

The local CFL club has cut ties with veteran kicker Troy Westwood, Winnipeg's leading scorer of all time.

Although head coach Doug Berry said the decision was based on Westwood's inconsistencies in both placekicking and punting over the last two years, Westwood blamed it on the mind games involved.

The 41-year-old was benched after a poor outing last season and was scrutinized at every practice. He earned his way back on the roster and finished the season as punter and placekicker.

"I can't say I'm surprised at what happened," Westwood said during an emotional press conference held at the Sun Centre. "I felt like I was punting the ball really well. I don't feel like I was beat out for a spot. But after some of the events of last year, nothing really surprises me."

Although Westwood maintains he is still the best punter in camp, he readily admitted that his placekicking was poor.

"But having said that, in regards to what I was able to overcome in the environment and mental warfare of last year, the way I was able to reply in the last three games -- two playoff games and the Grey Cup, to able to step up to the plate and make a positive contribution to the team, I think that should speak volumes for what I'm capable of," Westwood said.

"As of Day 2 at training camp, when Doug made the statement that he felt that I lost my leg and I wasn't where I was, kicking-wise, as I was in the Grey Cup ... it was made very clear that we were back to Square 1. He just changed the feeling, the environment for me."

Berry said he'd already cut Westwood slack because of his contribution and dedication over 17 years and there was nothing personal involved in the decision.

"This was never an issue about personality and friendship," Berry said. "This was a performance issue and strictly that. As a person, I really like him. I think he's good for the locker room. I like his professionalism."

Westwood wasn't buying it.

"Just because words are spoken, it does not necessarily make the words spoken to be truthful or from the heart," he responded.

"I want to make it real clear that I don't feel like I have been treated poorly by the football team ... The Blue Bomber club has been really good to me and very supportive to me in tough times. I will remember friends that I have on both sides of the office, the friendships I have there will last me a lifetime, for sure."

Bombers GM Brendan Taman, who broke the news to Westwood late Saturday, asked him to retire.

"I gave him a colourful reply," Westwood said.

"I knew the answer I was going to get and I can't repeat what he told me -- that was declined, I'll say that," Taman said.

"In the end, this is probably very much destiny for me," Westwood said. "I'd rather go out swinging any day of the week than quitting."

When asked if he wanted to talk to Berry, Westwood paused, then replied: "I don't think there's much to be said."

Born in Dauphin, Westwood is the club's all-time leading scorer with 2,741 points and boasts the CFL record for best career field-goal percentage in the playoffs -- 85.7%.

"Everybody in this room loves Troy and I'm one of them," Taman said. "But I'm not cutting a personality, I'm cutting him for his inability to kick."

Although Westwood is willing to listen offers from other CFL teams, he will not hold his breath.

"He's probably done," Taman said.


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