TORONTO -- Former Toronto Argonauts Kicker/Punter Noel Prefontaine, a veteran of 16 CFL seasons (including 14 as an Argo), and a two-time Grey Cup champion will sign a one-day contract at Sunday's home game and officially retire as an Argonaut. The team and its fans will then have an opportunity to honour him on-field during the first half of the game (Sunday, August 17 vs. BC Lions, kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Rogers Centre).
Commented Noel Prefontaine, "I would like to thank the Toronto Argonauts organization for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dream of playing professional football. I'm honoured to have played in the CFL for 16 seasons. I played the game with a strong sense of commitment and passion and can only hope I left a mark in the hearts of Argonauts fans. As I begin a new chapter in my life, I'm very appreciative for the relationships I've built throughout my career as they have helped shape me both professionally and personally. I may be leaving the game as a player but I will always remain a fan of the CFL. Thanks for the memories...ARGOOOOOOOOOS!!!"
Selected by Toronto in the 1998 Supplemental Draft, Prefontaine spent 14 seasons with the club (1998-2008, 2010-2013), and three with the Edmonton Eskimos (2008-2010). During his career with Toronto, Prefontaine made club history as the only Argonaut to ever be named a CFL All-Star at Punter 6 different times. He was also named East Division's All-Star 11 times (eight at punter, three at place kicker), CFL Special Teams Player of the Week 9 times, and the CFLPA's 2004 CFL & East Division All Star Punter. He won Grey Cup championships as an Argonaut in 2004 and 2012.
While he played in 254 regular season CFL games, he dressed in 207 as an Argonaut which ranks just second behind Don Moen for most career games played in club history. He played in 18 playoff games for Toronto and helped lead the team to two Grey Cup wins. He currently holds the record for most points scored in an Argonauts playoff career with 23 converts, 23 field goals and 9 singles for 101 points.
Commented Toronto Argonauts General Manager Jim Barker, "Noel Prefontaine was a very competitive and versatile player. His teammates knew they could count on him to be at the top of his game as a kicker, but they also knew he was not afraid to get his nose dirty by laying a big hit. He even dressed and practiced as a backup quarterback. Pre's intelligence and athleticism made him a valuable part of our team on the field, and his poise and leadership are what made him an invaluable member of our locker room. His passion for this team and the game is genuine, and he will always be remembered as an Argonaut."
As one of the greatest CFL kickers of all time, Prefontaine set multiple Argos and league records. For the club, he ranks first all-time in total punts (1,464), all-time punting yards (67,061), and most punting yards in a single game (744). He also holds club records for most all-time kickoffs in a career (688), and most kickoff yards (40,521). He is tied for the Argonauts record for most field goals in a single game with 7, and is second in all-time field goals by an Argonaut with 263. He is currently tied for second all-time in the CFL for highest punting average (45.7), and his 347 total field goals places him 11th in League history.
His CFL career numbers include 347 field goals, 80,678 punting yards, 53,723 kicking yards, and a total of 1,634 total kicking points. Always known for his tenacity and passion on the field, Prefontaine added 91 special team tackles, including a more than a few booming highlight reel hits!
Commented Argonauts Vice-Chair and Prefontaine's former coach and teammate, Michael "Pinball" Clemons, "Today one of the best players ever to don the Double Blue is retiring. Football enthusiasts might ask, 'but he's just a kicker?' In actuality, he is much more than that! Internally, we considered him our MVP because he influenced the game more than any other single player on the roster. He put the special in special teams, which is exceptional but not surprising for a kicker. What's more unexpected is there were times when he was our best offensive player; leading us in scoring and changing field position with one smooth sweep of his lower left appendage. From unexpected to shocking, there were times he was our best defensive player, making the kinds of tackles that would make Mike O'Shea proud. We also gained a greater competitive advantage because of his excellent arm and superior hands.
He did it all; he was awesome to our fans, he loved the game and obviously, the game loved him. I'm just like the game: I love him too. Pre, I hope retirement gives you some rest because you carried us a long time."
Prefontaine began his football career at Cal State Fullerton before moving to San Diego State University (1995-1996). In 1996, he set a new SDSU record for longest single punt (82 yards) and recorded 4469 punting yards in his time with SDSU. In his senior year, he was named a first team All-American and first team All-WAC Pacific Division with a number one NCAA ranking in net punting.
Noel and his wife Tanya are the proud parents of two sons, Noah and Ethan, and a daughter, Soleil.