Milt hangs up his cleats

Milt Stegall has retired from the CFL after 14 years in the league. (Sun Media/Jason Halstead)

Milt Stegall has retired from the CFL after 14 years in the league. (Sun Media/Jason Halstead)

KEN WIEBE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:23 PM ET

Milt Stegall, the Touchdown Beagle, has gone into the end zone for the final time.

The long-time Winnipeg Blue Bombers slotback officially announced his retirement Wednesday morning, bringing his brilliant 14-year CFL career to a close.

"I just want to start by saying I didn't take any banned substance, no steroids, nothing," Stegall said with his typical humour during a press conference in the Winnipeg Sun Centre.

But Stegall, who was flanked by sons Chase and Collin and wife Darlene, was not here to explain himself like Alex Rodriguez did one day earlier.

Instead, there was an announcement to make, one that had long been speculated.

"It wasn't a tough decision," said Stegall. "After I had the (knee) surgery, we had decided (2008) was going to be my last season."

Stegall played three NFL seasons before joining the Blue Bombers as a free agent in September of 1995.

The 39-year-old would go on to re-write the CFL record book, becoming the all-time touchdown leader (147), the career leader in receiving touchdowns (144), the career leader in receiving yards (15,153), most games with a receiving touchdowns (105) and the most touchdowns in a season (23).

"I'm not sure if we'll know for some time the contribution and how remarkable Milt's career really has been," said Blue Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer. "One of the few ways we can say thank you is very simple."

Bauer went on to announce that Stegall will become the second player in franchise history (punter Bob Cameron is the other) to have the mandatory waiting period waived to be inducted into the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame.

"That's an honour and a pleasure," said Stegall. "You hear a lot of guys talk about it and wish they'd have an opportunity. It's a privilege and I'm definitely overwhelmed knowing that I'll be in there with some of the greatest players, not only in Blue Bombers history, but in CFL history.

"Knowing that I'm going in right away is a pleasure and I appreciate it."

Stegall praised the community and the organization for their support and says he plans to be involved with the Blue Bombers in some capacity going forward.

He also announced that he'll be a guest studio analyst for TSN during nine CFL games this season.

Current Blue Bombers head coach Mike Kelly was the offensive co-ordinator when Stegall originally joined the fold and said No. 85 was a quick study.

"He adapted to the game so well and understood what we were trying to do, much more quickly than a lot of players who were put in the same situation," said Kelly. "I knew that he was going to be a good player. Could you ever anticipate that he would be the player he became? You can't do that, but certainly I knew he'd be a contributor for a number of years.

"All in all, I'm thrilled that I got to be a part of Milt's career, however little it was. I got to be at the front end of it and help teach him the game."


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