Anniversary to forget

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:21 PM ET

It's a one-year anniversary that the Edmonton Eskimos would like to forget.

But with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers coming here tomorrow to open the regular season, the memory turns back to "The Play" - Milt Stegall's game-winning 100-yard touchdown catch with no time left on the clock last summer at Commonwealth Stadium.

Although Keyuo Craver and Malcolm Frank - the two defensive backs Stegall beat on the play - are no longer with the club, the play is still exceptionally vivid with other players still in the locker-room.

"It is fresh still in (my) mind," said Jonte Buhl, who played safety that night.

"I happened to be blitzing and I turned around and I looked and I saw the ball in the air but I figured it would be for an easy tackle.

"We missed some key tackles and he ran down the sideline."

Buhl can even recall the feeling in his stomach.

"It is like being on a rollercoaster - but not the same rush - but the stomach just dropped," he remarked.

"It is a sick feeling."

Quarterback Ricky Ray believes that single, ugly play was one of the turning points in the 2006 season.

"It was the beginning of the snowball," said Ray, whose club dropped to 2-3 after the Stegall miracle.

"It really broke our hearts.

"It seemed like every tough ball game that we got into the rest of the year, those types of things happened."

But don't even think about asking head coach Danny Maciocia about the dreaded moment in Eskimo history.

That was tried yesterday in his daily media interview session - and it went over like a lead balloon.

"Here is the thing with 2006 - just so we set the record straight," said Maciocia.

"That is no different than your personal life or your finances - you may have had a tough year.

"I had my tough year but I put it behind me and I don't think about it anymore.

"We're in 2007 - so I am going to take questions that have to do with 2007."

Maciocia candidly admits, though, that the Milt Meltdown was a learning experience.

"Damn right," he stated. "If you don't learn then you are going to repeat it."

In ironic fashion, Maciocia barked out specific instructions to his defensive players yesterday during practice as they carefully orchestrated a hail-Mary play.

It's also ironic that three members of last year's Bombers' squad - Stanford Samuels, Ron Warner and Stevie Baggs - are now wearing green and gold.

"It was definitely an unbelievable play - probably one of the greatest catches in football history," said Baggs.

No play in the CFL last year was likely replayed more on TV than Stegall's romp. It even got significant airtime in the United States.

"When I would go back to Cincinnati (in the off-season) or see people I haven't seen in a while, they would say, 'Man, I taped that episode of ESPN when they showed your 100-yard touchdown!' " Stegall told Winnipeg media this week.

"I knew I was going to be asked about it.

"That was more than just a touchdown.

"That's history right there. So I don't mind getting asked about that one."

When Stegall arrives in Edmonton today, he's bound to be asked about it repeatedly by the media.


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