Who needs practice?

Slotback Milt Stegall is keeping in shape by working out two or three times a week. (Sun...

Slotback Milt Stegall is keeping in shape by working out two or three times a week. (Sun Media/Brian Donogh)

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

Sweetest. Gig. Ever.

That's what your average eight-year-old, not to mention Allen Iverson, would think of Milt Stegall's situation these days.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers slotback, in an effort to alleviate the pressure on his aching left knee, will not practise very much for the rest of the season.

Aside from the odd rep here and there, the only time he'll catch passes at full speed will be in games.

No practices.

Just games.

It doesn't get any better than that. Unless your name, of course, is Milt Stegall.

"I enjoy practice," Turtle Man shrieked yesterday in his high-pitched voice. "This is something I really enjoy and look forward to.

"Everybody loves the game; most guys don't love practice. But I love practising. I know that sounds weird."

Does it ever. He's a 14-year veteran. At 38 he's the second-oldest player in the league behind Paul McCallum. Rough calculations (and we mean very rough) determined that yesterday's practice was the 1,215th of his CFL career.

You'd think the man would be sick of practice by now, but he's not.

"What has to be done has to be done," he said sullenly.

No one feels sorry for you, Mr. Stegall.

"I hear it from Doug Brown. He's on me," Stegall said. "He's calling it a golden retirement. He says, 'I hope I can do what you're doing.' But I enjoy practising. You've got some guys who enjoy it. One guy is Romby Bryant. He enjoys practising."

Stegall couldn't come up with any other names, and he mentioned the only player on the team -- Bryant -- who doesn't speak to the media, so we'll never know if that's true or not.

Stegall, who needs 112 receiving yards to become the CFL's career leader, did sneak into a couple of reps yesterday, and he might do a little more today as the Bombers gear up for the 42nd Labour Day Classic on Sunday in Regina against the Roughriders.

"Just to get a little timing, get warmed up, work some of the kinks out," he said. "They slap some oil on me like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz so I loosen up a little bit."

He'll do as much as he can, even though he doesn't believe it's a problem to be missing so much practice time.

In fact, New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress did the same thing as Stegall last season because of an ankle injury. He hardly practised, played only games and basically won the Super Bowl with a last-minute touchdown catch.

"A lot of people may think that (missing practice is a problem), but I don't think so," Stegall said. "I gotta do whatever I have to do to play in a game. I know what's going on with the playbook.

"Of course I would like to get in there (at practice) and get some more timing down -- that's why I try to get a few plays here and there -- but I don't think I'm losing too much."

Stegall is keeping in shape by working out two or three times a week on a $75,000 treadmill at the Pan Am Clinic. It features a harness around his waist that takes the pressure of his left knee, which had cartilage cleaned out of it on May 2 and forced him to miss six of the season's first seven games.

"Hopefully as time goes on," he said, "I'll be able to put all that body weight on me where I can get out here and practise a little bit more than what I'm doing right now."

Eight-year-olds everywhere, and Iverson, just shake their heads.


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