Sayonara Stegall

Milt Stegall and his son Chase, who was on hand, as one of the CFL's all-time greatest receivers...

Milt Stegall and his son Chase, who was on hand, as one of the CFL's all-time greatest receivers announced his retirement. (Sun Media/Marcel Cretain)

KEN WIEBE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

Milt Stegall has two regrets about his professional football career, but insists neither had anything to do with him not winning a Grey Cup.

"One of them is my sons not being old enough to see me play. Chase will remember someday but I don't think he'll remember a lot," Stegall said after his retirement press conference yesterday. "The other regret is my father not being here. My father died when I was a senior in high school. He was my biggest fan and biggest supporter and he's watching me from the heavens above, but I would just love to see his reaction to the things that have gone on the field.

"Everyone would think it's not winning a Grey Cup, but every day after a game I would wake up and know I did all that I could. I have no regrets about the things I did on the football field."

Stegall was emotional during his address and subsequent interviews, but adamant he would not shed a tear -- at least not in public.

In Stegall's eyes, this was a celebration, not a goodbye.

"It's been a great run, it's time to move on," said Stegall, 39. "My legacy has nothing to do with what I did on the football field. I want to be remembered as a person who not only was a football player, but somebody who actually did something in the community. Hopefully, I changed some lives."

After three years in the NFL, Stegall joined the Blue Bombers as a free agent in September of 1995 and went on to have a prolific career.

Stegall re-wrote the CFL record book and is considered by many to be the greatest receiver in league history.

While saying he knew 2008 would be his final season after undergoing knee surgery last summer, Stegall admits retirement will be tough.

"I'm just going to miss everything," said Stegall. "I'm going to miss putting on that jersey, going into the locker-room, seeing fans in the stands or the mall with my jersey on, being in the meeting room. I'm going to miss all these things. It's been a great experience. Every time I see somebody with a No. 85 jersey, it's still hard to believe I'm the reason they have that jersey on. I don't do any drugs and I don't drink, but the greatest high I've had was when I run onto that field and hear fans screaming my name.

"That's one of the things I'll miss the most. There's no occupation that can pay me enough that can describe that feeling and that high I get right there every single time. I have enough stored up right now where I can ride into the sunset and really enjoy and not be sad that it's over, but be happy I got a chance to go through it. One day it has to end."

Stegall didn't hesitate when asked about his fondest memory as a member of the Blue and Gold.

"It would have to be the 100-yard touchdown in Edmonton," he said, referring to the epic game-winning score with no time left on the clock on July 20 of 2006. "That will be the play I remember for the rest of my life. If you asked me, that's the greatest CFL play ever.

"That optimistic feeling was pretty much gone out the window. I thought the game was over until I happened to score that touchdown. I thought Chris Brazzell was going to jump on me and pinch me and that I was going to wake up from a dream."

The Blue Bombers also announced that Stegall will be the next inductee into the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame, waiving the mandatory waiting period for just the second time in franchise history (Bob Cameron was the other).

"I'm not sure that we'll know for some time how remarkable Milt's career really has been," said Blue Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer. "We have seen greatness and been part of it. He was a role model on and off the field."


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