Say it's so, Milt

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

Milt Stegall finally gave his answer.

No, not that one. Turns out he's going to play the I-may-retire game a little longer.

The answer I was looking for from the Blue Bombers' No. 85 yesterday was why he clammed up following another Grey Cup that got away.

Was he so angry he was afraid of what he might say?

Was he so devastated he was worried he might break down?

Why would the spiritual and inspirational leader of this team leave all those difficult questions for everybody else to handle, including quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie, who nearly cried, he felt so bad about losing the game?

Stegall refused to talk to the public, through the media, not only Sunday night, but Monday, too, upon the Bombers' return.

Why?

"Because I don't have to," Stegall said yesterday. "I don't have to talk."

That's it. No explanation. Not even a hint.

Now that he is talking, he still won't offer any insight into what happened in Sunday's game.

"I can't remember," he said, sounding as pleased with his own ability to avoid questions as with his ability to avoid defenders on the field. "God, I'm good, man."

Yeah, he's good. Probably the best to play this game, all things considered.

But here's something to ponder as the man ponders his own future: the Blue Bombers just might be better off without him in 2008.

Sacrilege, you say? A preposterous thing to even consider?

Not when you remove all emotion from the equation, and look directly at the bottom line.

Stegall pulled in somewhere north of $200,000 -- one published report pegs it at $240,000 -- to pull down 69 passes for 1,108 yards this season, good for seventh place among CFL receivers. The Bombers would no doubt have to cough up that much again to bring him back next year.

Truth is they probably can't afford to, not with the salary cap crunch they face this off-season.

Remember a year ago, when GM Brendan Taman paid out huge bonuses to players just before the Grey Cup, ensuring that money went on the 2006 books instead of '07? It was a loophole used by other teams, too, to get around the new salary cap, enforced for the first time this year.

Players like Doug Brown (about $100,000) and Charles Roberts ($75,000) cashed big cheques then, and earned relatively little this season -- Brown's "official" salary this year was just $50,000, or so.

Stegall signed one of those cap-friendly deals, too.

But next year, the chickens come home to roost. Brown's pay will have to jump six figures on the books, Roberts' close to that.

Stegall's $240,000 would go a long way to keeping the rest of this team together.

Potential free agents Tom Canada and Dan Goodspeed would draw huge interest on the open market. The Bombers will have to pay to keep them.

Quarterback Kevin Glenn is in a position to ask for a significant.


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