TORONTO — As his Toronto Argonauts teammates celebrated winning the historic 100th Grey Cup, veteran kicker Noel Prefontaine stood off by himself holding his 18-month-old son Ethan.
After 12 CFL seasons, the spectre of this possibly being the end of the line was certainly on the 38-year-old’s mind.
“I want to continue to play, I love coach (Scott) Milanovich, (Argos GM) Jim Baker, this organization,” Prefontaine said. “I’d love to still be a part of it but this is the CFL, it’s a year-to-year league and there’s a lot of things that can happen.”
“I’m going to wait, see what’s going on and make a decision.”
The mere fact Prefontaine – who helped Toronto win the 2004 Grey Cup – played in Sunday’s contest was incredible given in July the Argos punter and kicker told reporters he was undergoing career-threatening hip surgery.
Not only did Prefontaine resume his career, he returned way ahead of schedule to resume punting duties when rookie Swayze Waters suffered a thumb injury that hampered his ability to handle third-down snaps.
There didn’t appear to be anything wrong with Prefontaine’s hip Sunday night as he averaged a solid 44.6 yards on seven punts, but afterwards Prefontaine said he’s nowhere near 100 per cent.
“I needed to be stronger than what it feels like now,” he said. “I’m looking forward to building the strength there back up.”
One reason Prefontaine rushed his rehabilitation was because Toronto desperately needed a punter when Waters was injured. Another was Prefontaine feeling the Argos were on the cusp of something special that he desperately wanted to be part of.
“I thought it was possible for our team and just the lone fact I thought it could happen for this football team I wanted to get back,” he said. “That’s why I really rushed everything I was trying to do.”
“I worked as hard as I could because I just knew something great was going to happen at the end of the season.”
Prefontaine is scheduled to enter his option year in 2013 and would readily accept playing under its terms rather than broach the subject of an extension with Toronto. But he isn’t sure whether the Argos were pleased with his performance after returning or if the club wants to go with Waters, an American, to handle all three jobs (punting, kickoffs, field goals).
“I don’t know how they feel in terms of how I played,” he said. “It’s a discussion I’m sure we’ll have the next few days.”
“I have things to think about and discuss with my family but, man, if this is it, it has been a great ride. This is the icing on my cake, for sure.”
However, Prefontaine made it clear if he has his way, he’d like to be back with the club next year.
“I’d like to get back with this team and defend our title,” he said. “Absolutely.”
“I love this game. I’ve got other things going on in my life but nothing is going to compare with the feeling I get from playing.”