Bittersweet Bomber

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- Trying to pin down Milt Stegall on his future is a lot like trying to cover him. It's virtually impossible.

There have been rumbles that the future Hall of Fame receiver will hang up his cleats after this season.

"This year will be taken care of when this year is over," Stegall told The Toronto Sun yesterday. "I'm not thinking that far ahead. Everybody's been asking what I'm going to do. I take it day to day. Whatever happens next year happens next year."

Stegall has a wife, Darlene, and a one-year-old son, Chase Hamilton, in Atlanta and it is eating away at him emotionally not to be around his boy. Because his wife has a job in the corporate office at Home Depot in Atlanta, he has had to live away from his family for six months of the year.

When asked to compare his situation to Argos quarterback Damon Allen, who is 42 and has no desire to retire, Stegall pointed out that Allen's family is with him.

"When you figure that out, you'll figure what it's all about," Stegall said. "Do you have a family? Do you have a wife? Do you have any kids? Where am I six months out of the year? Up here. There it is, man."

The 35-year-old, 11-year veteran is having a great season. He had arguably the best game of his career this past Monday catching four passes, all of them for touchdowns, for 234 yards in a win over the B.C. Lions. He eclipsed his previous single-game yardage haul by one yard. The four majors gave him a league-leading 16.

Earlier this season, he surpassed Calgary's Allen Pitts as the league's career leader in touchdown receptions with 118. He now has a career total of 128 touchdowns in 153 games, which is 1.12 per game. By comparison, running backs Mike Pringle and George Reed had 1.37 per game. Stegall needs only 10 more TDs to surpass Reed and Pringle for career majors.

For all he has done in his career -- and that includes being named the Most Outstanding Player in 2002 -- Stegall never has won a Grey Cup. The Bombers last made it to the championship game in 2001 -- losing to Calgary -- the only time in Stegall's career he has played in the Cup.

There have been suggestions with the Grey Cup in Winnipeg next year, Stegall will come back for one more season.

Head coach Jim Daley said the organization has to give Stegall time in the off-season to make a decision.

"Milt will make the best decision for Milt and his family and at some point consider our team," Daley said. "The worst thing we can do is to try (to) pressure him into coming back."


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