Smiles all around

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

Brendan Taman may have said it best yesterday in the wake of Milt Stegall's return to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"Jerry Maslowsky will probably be the happiest guy in the organization," the general manager quipped.

He's probably right. Maslowsky is the Bombers vice-president of marketing, and having a CFL icon like Stegall continuing to grace Canad Inns Stadium certainly won't hurt the gate receipts.

To keep those fans happy, however, the Bombers must keep winning football games. And Stegall's return should go a long way in making that happen, even though there are some out there who feel the Bombers would have been better off without him.

"I'm pretty confident in my abilities as a personnel guy," Taman said. "I'm not as confident in my abilities as a personnel guy to recruit a Milt Stegall."

CAN STILL PLAY

The man can still play. He caught 69 passes for 1,108 yards and eight touchdowns last season. It was his ninth straight season with at least 1,000 yards, and he was seventh in the league in yardage.

"To replace a Milt Stegall is impossible," Taman said.

Bombers slotback Terrence Edwards, who lives near Stegall in Atlanta and visits him often, had a good feeling last week that No. 85 was coming back. The team's leading receiver from last season couldn't be happier.

"I just got off the phone with (wideout Derick) Armstrong, and the thing that I like about it is our whole group is coming back," Edwards said from Georgia. "A lot of times in the professional ranks, the college ranks or wherever, your core group of receivers is not intact (the following year).

"We got everybody coming back, and it's a tremendous plus for us."

FAMILY MAN: As always, it's Stegall's family situation that is allowing him to return for another season.

And that family is growing.

His wife Darlene is pregnant with their second child, due sometime this summer, and they have arranged for others to look after their business interests in Georgia.

That means the family is all but certain to live together in Winnipeg this summer, which would be a first.

It also means Stegall playing beyond 2008 isn't out of the realm of possibility.

COULD IT BE? Every year that Stegall has pondered retirement, the Bombers have gotten closer to winning a Grey Cup.

The Bombers fell 23-19 to Saskatchewan in the big game last November without an injured Kevin Glenn, and Stegall is confident his young teammates won't have a letdown this season.

"It's very difficult to get to that Grey Cup, and you can't take it for granted," Stegall said. "They took it to heart. They told me afterwards this is a great feeling and they want to get that feeling back and be on the winning side.

"It's going to be a very interesting year, and we're going to do some great things."

ANOTHER RECORD WATCH: Stegall's return means he is all but certain to break Allen Pitts' career receiving yards record. The CFL's touchdown king needs only 197 yards to snag that crown.


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