Turtle Man fans Hogtown flames

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 1:25 PM ET

TORONTO -- Milt Stegall knew he'd created some sparks with his comments about Toronto football fans earlier in the week.

So when he arrived here yesterday, he got out the fan and tried to turn it into a full-blown fire, calling Torontonians "disrespectful" of the game.

"You're dealing with this many people, and you're getting the same amount of fans that we get in Winnipeg or Saskatchewan," Stegall said. "I won't say it's sad, but I think it's disrespectful for these players and coaches here who have been working hard and putting a great product on this field for these Toronto people."

Stegall's comments several days ago about apathetic Toronto fans were already being used by Argos management in an attempt to sell tickets for today's East semifinal.

"While Milt Stegall is running his mouth, we'll be running the ball," the Argos told prospective ticket buyers.

Stegall remains unconvinced a big crowd will show up today.

"Is Buffalo playing a home game? 'Cause most of 'em will be there," he said, referring to the NFL's Bills, who are as popular here as the Argos. "Are the (NBA's) Raptors playing?

"Toronto wants to be the Hollywood of Canada. These fans have been crying about an NFL team for I don't know how long ... Two years ago Toronto won the Grey Cup. Last year they were Eastern conference champions, and this year they're in (the playoffs). What else can you ask for?"

Toronto running back John Avery stepped in to defend Argos fans, suggesting they're more supportive than Winnipeg's.

"How many seats does Winnipeg Stadium hold?" Avery asked. "We had, like, 40,000 the last game. That's enough of that."

The Argos drew some 38,000 to their last game against Montreal, about 9,000 more than capacity in Winnipeg.

Clearly enjoying himself, Stegall told reporters all the attention he's generated for today's game ought to get him some attention from Argos president Keith Pelley.

"He owes me some money for marketing, man," No. 85 said. "I've gotta stop giving this stuff away for free."


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