Every so often this season, as the Winnipeg Blue Bomber offence struggled, you'd hear the whispers: Robert Gordon and Milt Stegall, they're done -- a pair of former thoroughbreds getting ready to take that final run to pasture.
Well, hold your horses, because the two receivers appear ready to prove the skeptics wrong.
Stegall delivered his strongest argument of the season Saturday night in Vancouver, kicking up his heels to post 189 yards on seven catches in the Bombers' 42-31 loss and suggesting there's still some life in those 34-year-old legs.
Gordon, a healthy scratch the last four weeks, gets his chance this Friday when Hamilton comes to town.
To say the 36-year-old has been champing at the bit might be the understatement of the year.
"I've never been in that position through my 14-year career," Gordon was saying yesterday. "No one's ever sat me down. That was hard for me to bite, as a pro athlete. But ... I'm a team guy. I'm not a distraction. You just want to be out there."
The last time Gordon was out there was the Labour Day weekend, when he caught one pass for 11 yards.
He's been doing a slow burn ever since, even expressing his disappointment at something written in this space some four weeks ago.
Watching him and Khari Jones on the sidelines here against Saskatchewan, I made the observation that perhaps we were seeing a changing of the guard, a move from old, reliable workhorses to ponies like receiver Derrick Smith and quarterback Kevin Glenn.
"You were half right, 'cause Khari's gone," Gordon said. "I know it's coming to the end. But I'm still healthy, I'm still in shape. I haven't lost a step.
"It's time for playoff form. If we make the playoffs, and I get to play in the playoffs ... forget about the whole season, and go win that Grey Cup. Nobody in that locker-room wants it more than me. After 14 years in the league, that's all that's important to me."
In case you'd forgotten, Gordon still hasn't won the big one. Ditto Stegall.
Maybe that's what drives them to be in the remarkable condition they're both in.
Or maybe it's the realization that if you don't have youth on your side, you'd better have something else.
Like that extra gear Stegall seemed to find against the Lions, when he scored on a 67-yard catch and run. How is it that nobody caught the old guy from behind?
"The guys that are chasing me are faster than me," Stegall said. "They're just not in as good shape. It's like they're a cheetah, and I'm a gazelle. They're good for that short distance, and I'm good for the long haul."
Stegall's spectacular game lifted him into 10th place in CFL receiving yards, the first time a Bomber has cracked the top-10 since early in the season.
It was also his first 100-yard outing since August of '03, and the 67-yarder marked just his third touchdown of the year.
"Before the game (CBC broadcaster Chris) Walby said, 'You're long overdue.' I said, 'Walby, you sound like my wife, now.' It's definitely been a while," Stegall said.
Mind you, the five-time all-star and league outstanding player in '02 says he's far more concerned with wins and losses at this stage of his career.
Which brings us back to what Gordon was talking about: playoffs.
Who could forget where these two were the last two playoff games, as the final gun sounded on Winnipeg's Cup hopes in '02 and '03? Both were out with injuries, contributing to the whispers.
And here they are, No.'s 84 and 85, two old horses, together again -- just in time for one more run for the roses.
"We know our time is coming," Gordon said. "But not yet."