McDougal was the first

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

Milt Stegall remembers the play vividly.

Kevin McDougal? Not so much.

It was Sept. 19, 1995, and little did Stegall -- or McDougal, for that matter -- know that they were starting something special.

The visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers were trailing the Calgary Stampeders badly late in the fourth quarter when McDougal, the Blue and Gold's starting quarterback, rolled to his left and found Stegall on Calgary's eight-yard line.

Stegall turned around, headed for the end zone and avoided Marvin Coleman's tackle, diving to score the first touchdown of his storied CFL career. Over the next 14 seasons Stegall became the most prolific touchdown pass catcher in the history of the game.

McDougal is now 35 years old, which is two years younger than Stegall, and works in pharmaceutical sales. He doesn't recall that first touchdown pass to Stegall, but he remembers just how skilled the new guy was.

"I can't remember the touchdown," McDougal said, "but I can say this: Every day I wondered: How did he get here? I know there were a lot of receivers in the NFL who weren't as good as him."

McDougal was the first of 13 Bombers quarterbacks to throw a touchdown pass to Stegall, who retired recently.

The others were Khari Jones, Kevin Glenn, Kerwin Bell, Chris Vargas, Reggie Slack, Jay Walker, Pat Barnes, Russ Michna, Troy Kopp, Mike Quinn, Brian Ah Yat and Kent Austin.

McDougal was part of the Bomber quarterbacking stable for three seasons, from 1995 to 1997. Those were some lean years, and McDougal ended up throwing seven touchdowns to Stegall in all.

The aspect of Stegall that is firmly entrenched in McDougal's mind today is Turtle Man's professionalism.

"He was definitely my top receiver, no doubt," McDougal said.

"Back then nobody knew him, but if they had asked what receivers you would take, I definitely would've taken Milt, just because his work ethic was so good.

"Even if he didn't get the ball, he ran his routes perfectly every time. Even in games I didn't play so well, he never complained. He never said, 'Throw me the ball.'

"I'm sure that's why he's been rewarded with a long career and he broke the record. He definitely deserves it, 100%."

McDougal was only 22 years old when he threw that first major to Stegall, but he was off to the Arena Football League three years later. He played in the XFL for a year, went back to the Arena league for a season or two and then called it a career.

He ran into Stegall a few years back in Atlanta but hasn't seen him since. Even though they had lost touch, McDougal was tinkled pink to find out that he was the first, the one who started Stegall on his way to CFL immortality.

"To think back then that that was going to be the first of ... wow!" McDougal said. "I wish I could've stayed there longer to play with him."


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