How great is Stegall?

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

Why is Milt Stegall so great?

It's a question we thought we'd pose to his Winnipeg Blue Bomber teammates yesterday, considering the 35-year-old slotback with the body of a 25-year-old continues to be idolized by five- and 95-year-olds alike thanks to his stellar play.

Stegall, who on Sunday became the CFL's all-time leader in touchdown receptions, is back to putting up numbers reminiscent of his record-setting 2002 season.

Despite his team's current two-game losing streak and 3-8 record, Stegall is flourishing. Here's why:

- he has five touchdowns and 315 yards in his last three games;

- he leads the CFL with 10 touchdown receptions and an impressive 20.1-yard average per grab;

- he is sixth in the league with 742 yards after being in 15th spot just three weeks ago;

- he has at least one touchdown catch in seven straight games.

Stegall can tie a career high of eight consecutive games with a touchdown tomorrow night when the Bombers host the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Banjo Bowl at Canad Inns Stadium.

Before he can do that, the team will have a pre-game ceremony to celebrate Stegall's all-time TD reception record, which now stands at 119.

There were whispers last season that Turtle Man was done. After hauling in at least 14 touchdowns in each of his previous four seasons, he was held to just six majors in 2004 and his 1,121 receiving yards were his fewest since he played only seven games back in 1998.

It all turned out to be hogwash. The way he's playing might be worth the price of admission alone tomorrow night.

So, Matt Sheridan, why is Stegall so great?

"I'd heard through the grapevine (during his first camp in 2000) that rookies and draft picks were eligible for nominal money in camp, something like 50 bucks," the offensive lineman said.

"I figured I better ask about it, so I went up to Milt and proceeded to address him as Mr. Stegall. He said, 'Ah, young Matthew, this team doesn't do that. It's kind of up to the discretion of the team.'

"And then Milt offered me money out of his own pocket to get me through camp and said that I could pay him back whenever I could. So I, from that moment forward, have had nothing but good things to say about Milt Stegall and hold him in the highest regard.

"He's just an exemplary human being, not to mention an absolute fantastic professional and football player."

Why is Stegall so great, Troy Westwood?

"Milt's the ultimate professional," the kicker said. "He keeps himself in shape year-round. There's no such thing as the off-season for a guy like Milt, who's really dedicated to his craft.

"He is, for the most part, a silent leader, kind of like the way Greg Battle was. He's just really dedicated to what he does."

Why is Stegall so great, Doug Brown?

"I would say it has to do with the fact that he never leaves his house," the defensive tackle joked. "He's a miser. He spends all of his time, I don't know, locked indoors and buying supplements or something. He doesn't spend his money. He's very careful what he spends his money on, and he's never seen in public. So I don't know if those are factors, but I'd like to contribute them to his success.

"And he only eats chicken. He's never eaten red meat at all, so that could be the key. The meat slows him down.

"The guy's just amazing, man. I don't know."

Why is Stegall so great, Omar Evans?

"Him and Kevin (Glenn) are in a groove," the cornerback said. "And sometimes when you get in a groove like that, it doesn't really matter who's chucking it to you, no matter how old you are.

"He works out all the time, every day. He's just the perfect professional. He's a great guy on and off the field. You can't beat that."


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