June 15th, 2024

CFL to allow teams to decide which footballs their kickers/punters will use

By The Canadian Press on June 7, 2024.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Sergio Castillo (14) celebrates as he kicks a field goal against the Calgary Stampeders during second half CFL pre-season action in Winnipeg Friday, May 31, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Sergio Castillo can go back to kicking a normal football.

The CFL announced Friday that, effective immediately, teams will decide before games if their kickers and punters will use the league’s chipped footballs or others of their own choosing.

But the league added it will continue using microchip-implanted balls and revisit their usage ahead of next season.

On Thursday night, Castillo took issue with the league’s chipped footballs following the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ season-opening 27-12 home loss to the Montreal Alouettes.

Castillo missed two of the three field goals he attempted in the game (38 and 40 yards) along with a convert.

Last season, the 33-year-old made 46-of-51 field goals he attempted (club-record 90.2 per cent).

Whatever decision a team reaches will apply to both its kicker and punter.

The CFL has inserted microchips into its footballs to help generate real-time statistical information.

But many CFL kickers, including Saskatchewan’s Brett Lauther, who is also the vice-president of the CFL Players’ Association, have said the chips negatively impact kicking accuracy.

And following Thursday night’s game, Lauther, Ottawa’s Lewis Ward and B.C.’s Sean Whyte, along with Redblacks punter/holder Richie Leone, all took to social media to voice their displeasure with the chipped footballs.

Montreal kicker David Côté made both of his field goals (22, 19 yards) in the game but missed a convert.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2024.

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