Blue complacent

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

Milt Stegall was in quite the mood yesterday, at the same time entertaining and taking shots at the media, mixing humour, honesty, even a dose of paranoia.

The CFL's all-time touchdown king might be one of its all-time quote machines, too.

Among his gems as the Bombers prepared to face Calgary tonight:

* On his comment, after the loss in Calgary last week, that the Bombers are bleeding and absolutely must win the rematch tonight: "You sure I said that? I might have been misquoted. I can't remember, man. I took a couple of shots in that game."

* On the "vultures" in the media, as former Bomber coach Dave Ritchie loved to call us: "As long as we take care of it (tonight) ... you won't have any ammunition about, 'You're bleeding, or you need surgery.' We lose and you guys will come in here, smiling, 'We got a bunch of stuff to ask him now. We're going to go straight to Milt Stegall's locker.' But winning cures all."

* On what he's hearing from Bomber fans after three losses in the last four games: "I don't hear from them. I haven't been to the grocery store -- I've been starving all week."

* On stumbling across head coach Doug Berry's radio show: "And some of the questions they ask, you can tell, like, man, if I was coach Berry I'd be jumping through the radio. The fans, they have the right. Without the fans, there is no Milt Stegall, there is no CFL. So they definitely have the right to know what's going on and give suggestions. I see why I would never coach. Put it like that."

The show went on, and in typical Stegall fashion you couldn't tell for sure if he was enjoying it or gritting his teeth.

Which brings us to what's left of the '07 season, a stretch that, fair or not, will go a long way to defining Stegall's career.

Either this team will send him off into retirement with the Grey Cup championship and a permanent smile on his face, or he'll be gritting his teeth about the one thing that eluded him, just another great player who never won a Cup.

Let's be honest: Stegall will be remembered as a better player, a winner, if he winds up his remarkable career with a title.

Which is why some of his teammates should be ashamed of what's happened the last month.

Comfortably in first place, a five-point cushion between them and Montreal and Toronto in the CFL East, the Bombers did something Stegall would never do: they got complacent.

At least that's what it looks like from where I sit. From where No. 85 sits, too, it turns out.

"That might have been part of the problem," Stegall said in one of those moments of pure honesty. "We had a five-point lead on both teams, and we were kind of cruising. So maybe guys started thinking, 'How am I going to spend that extra playoff money?' We can't think that far ahead. For sure, that's not the problem now."

I guess not, after three losses in four games, and with the Argos just one point back, the Alouettes three.

This team is reeling, and no matter what Stegall says he didn't say about a must-win tonight, or what Berry says about approaching this game like any other, its season could well be on the line.

Drop another at home, a third straight overall, and we wonder if that sideline scrap we saw between Kyries Hebert and Juran Bolden two weeks ago may turn into a full-scale brawl.

The good news is complacency can usually be checked. Two or three wins going into the playoffs, and we'll consider it done.

Left unchecked, though, it can turn to rot.

And, yeah, that'll mean a whole bunch of questions, not only from the people who consider this team important enough to write and talk about, but from the fans who pay the freight.


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