Stegall a cut above the rest

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

Brian Clark remembers the day he was informally introduced to the legend that has become Milt Stegall.

"In my first season, he took a punt reverse on me," said the Calgary Stampeders linebacker about a day in 1998 when he toiled with the Montreal Alouettes.

"I thought I had him lined up, and he ran by me. I thought I was going to catch him, but he kept going and going. I said to myself, 'Who is this guy?'

"Two years later, I was playing with him watching him do that every day. I didn't feel bad about it anymore."

Winnipeg Blue Bomber Stegall has kept running past people on the football field, and is still tied for the CFL all-time touchdown mark with 137 after last night's 32-23 win over the Montreal Alouettes.

Long before he challenged for the all-time touchdown record, Clark considered Stegall the best receiver he's seen in the CFL.

Clark spent four seasons with Stegall from 2000-03 and was amazed every day at how hard the receiver would work, which translated into some of the best seasons any pass catcher has ever had.

In 2000, Stegall started a great relationship with quarterback Khari Jones and became a touchdown machine.

As a member of the defence, Clark stood on the sidelines watching Stegall hit TD totals of 15, 14, 23 and 15 in four seasons with Jones.

Because Stegall continues to play at the highest level at age 37 that Clark considers him one of the best ever.

"I don't know all the old-time guys who are considered greats," Clark said. "The 10 years I've been here, he has set the standard for yards and touchdowns even when he's getting double or triple-teamed.

"Those few years with Milt and Khari, they were unbelievable, and I was thankful just to be there to witness it. I will look back when I'm done playing and say I was there with those guys when they were unbelievable."

Wes Lysack grew up in Winnipeg and was only 15 when Stegall came into the league to play for his hometown Bombers.

When Lysack broke into the league with the Stamps in 2003, he kept trying to line Stegall up for a big hit but couldn't because the receiver was too smooth and avoided collisions.

In late 2004, Lysack was traded to the Bombers and then gained an even greater appreciation for Stegall's talent, practising on the same field with him every day.

"I've been in the league or a fan of the league all my life and he's the best I've ever seen," Lysack said. "I had the privilege to be a teammate of his and play against him. What you see in the record book is just a quality guy.

"In my mind, he is the greatest receiver to play this game."

HIGH PRAISE FROM STAMPEDERS FOR MILT

"If he's not the best, he's right there in the conversation. I followed Allen Pitts closely, but if you look at Milt's age and how he is still able to do what he does, that's the amazing part. Nobody's done it for that amount of time."

"That he still is playing at this level at age 37 is amazing -- he plays like he's 21 still. He looks like he hasn't lost a step at all. Me and a lot of the other guys praise that. I hope that when I'm 37, I can still run like he does."

"I call him Hero. I think he's the best. Since I've been here, he's been so consistent ... He might not play every game and his body has taken a toll over time, but he's still the best receiver. He goes out every week and makes plays."

"He's one of the best. The thing about Milt, you always know you will get something from him. When we watched the game film, he looks the same as three or four years ago."

"He makes his QBs better and never complains if someone gets moved out. He's still going to make plays and that's what we respect as receivers. He's a lot like the Jerry Rice of this league. He's still doing it.

"Maybe he's not as fast as he once was but can still move. He's an anomaly because not too many guys can play for as long as he has."


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