Legends need change

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

They will go down as Blue Bomber greats, two of the best at their position, and they've played every game of their CFL careers in blue and gold.

Right now, though, you can't help but wonder if a change of scenery wouldn't be the best thing for Milt Stegall and Troy Westwood. Particularly after Saturday night's 19-17 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Judging by fan reaction, more than a few people feel the same way -- but for vastly different reasons.

In case you missed it, Stegall was showered with applause, a framed jersey and a new SUV during a pre-game ceremony, for becoming the CFL's all-time leader in touchdown receptions.

As much love as there is for No. 85 in this town, you get the impression fans wouldn't have minded if he'd hopped right into that Ford Escape and escaped to, say, Edmonton or Vancouver.

Because Stegall's 11th year in Winnipeg is about to become his 11th without a Grey Cup ring, and he appears to be as far away from one as ever.

Could anybody blame the 35-year-old for asking to be traded to a contender?

"A lot of folks have asked me that," Stegall was saying yesterday. "But I don't want that. I want it to happen here. I'm not going to go in there and disrespect them, the way they've treated me. They've treated me like a first-class player."

'NO DON'T TRADE ME'

OK, but what if the Bombers arranged one of those future considerations deals and sent him to the undefeated B.C. Lions?

"Even if they wanted to trade me, I'd be like, 'No, don't trade me.' This is where I want to get it done," Stegall said.

Sounds good, but the way this team's going, he'll have to play until he's 50.

The Bombers are about to go a 15th year without winning a championship. Only Saskatchewan, at 16 years, has been more inept.

Which brings us to the uglier side of this story.

At the opposite end of the crowd's love-meter on Saturday was Westwood, affectionately referred to as Old Lefty in this space over the years.

Westwood has never won a Grey Cup, either, but when he missed a 42-yard field goal against the Roughriders -- and the Bombers wound up losing by two -- you didn't get the impression anybody wanted him traded to a contender.

Shipped up to the north pole, maybe.

"I just pretend my name is Lou, and they're all cheering my name," Westwood said, proving his sense of humour is in much better shape than his kicking game.

Actually, Old Lefty still says his lowest moment was missing three field goals in the 2001 Grey Cup -- but this season is coming awfully close.

'DEALING WITH RAGE'

"I'm just dealing with a lot of rage at this point," he said. "Just exceptionally pissed off. I still believe very strongly in myself and my abilities. I just have to put it through."

You might not want to see this, but here's Westwood's explanation for his latest miss.

"During the warm-up ... I was putting it about a yard outside the left upright and the wind was just carrying it in," he said. "I hit the ball exactly where I was aiming at, and the ball didn't freakin' move at all. We've had our fair share of bad luck in the field goal department this year."

Bad luck, bad karma, bad kicks -- it's all the same to Bomber fans, who've begun to dog Westwood like a bad smell.

Ask him about a change of scenery and, unlike Stegall, he ponders the question for several seconds.

But his answer's similar.

"It's not something I would ever instigate," Westwood said. "I grew up in Winnipeg. I'm living a dream playing for this team. So I would like to, if at all possible ... finish playing as a Bomber."

A nice dream to have. But this is a nightmare season.

And, unlike Stegall, he might not have the choice.


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