Stegall worried about Blue Bombers

Legendary Winnipeg Blue Bomber Milt Stegall predicts the Bombers will be in trouble if something...

Legendary Winnipeg Blue Bomber Milt Stegall predicts the Bombers will be in trouble if something happens to Buck Pierce. Stegall has come to see the media in a different light now that he is on the other side of the microphone.

 Paul Friesen, Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 4:05 AM ET

WINNIPEG - For a guy who used to get pretty riled up by the ink-strained wretches of the press, Milt Stegall has become quite the crap disturber, himself.

The greatest receiver in Winnipeg Blue Bombers history sat down in his old team’s boardroom, Wednesday, surrounded by photos of the franchise’s all-time greats — and proceeded to ruffle some Big Blue feathers.

On the Bombers’ decision to trade quarterback Steven Jyles, leaving an injury-prone Buck Pierce as the team’s only experienced signal-caller:

“Buck Pierce is a great quarterback,” Stegall began. “But if he goes down... they might be calling back Kenny Ploen. Because I don’t even know what’s behind him. They have, what’s his name, Brink?

“If Buck is healthy, they have a chance. If he’s not, I don’t believe they have a chance.”

On how Jyles will do for the East Division rival Argonauts this season:

“Adding him in Toronto was big. You look at what they did last year with what they had to work with at quarterback. The pieces are set right now. They’re in place for Toronto to do some damage.”

On why Jyles struggled to win games for the Bombers:

“He had so much to think about here. He even thought he was going to be the No. 1 guy. That definitely affected him.”

On Canadian receivers Brock Ralph and Aaron Hargreaves:

“I love those two guys. But they’re not starters. Those guys aren’t legit starters, right now. Brock Ralph, he’s maybe out the door.”

TSN’s third-year CFL panelist was just getting warmed up.

Asked for his opinion on the job Paul LaPolice did as a rookie head coach, Stegall didn’t hold back on his old offensive co-ordinator.

“He didn’t do well,” Stegall said. “He didn’t do as well as I thought he was going to do. He better make it happen this year. If not, everybody’s gone. Winnipeg is just cleaning house. They’ve got a new stadium coming, there’s possibly an NHL team coming. They’ve got to get it going.”

Pretty cutting-edge stuff for a guy who used to clash with media types he thought were being too negative.

Makes you wonder if somebody will pull the Bomber welcome mat out from under him the next time he comes to town.

Here to promote his Blue and Gold football camp later this month, Stegall said it hasn’t always been easy to throw a low block at his old team.

“But as long as I’m honest about it, I don’t think it’s a problem,” he said. “People may get mad at you. But I have to be honest. That’s what they pay me for.”

Seems No. 85 has latched onto his new gig the way he latched onto deep passes, back in the day.

Geez, he even acknowledged the work of yours truly over the years. Sort of.

“You’re very critical, but 95% of the time you’re honest,” he told me. “I can deal with the honest.”

He couldn’t always. I remember Stegall declaring a locker-room interview ban on the Winnipeg Sun because he didn’t like one writer’s prediction of a Bomber slaughter.

“In this profession, if you have soft skin, you shouldn’t be playing,” he said, Wednesday. 

“That’s the media’s job.”

Based on that assessment, Stegall shouldn’t have been playing.

But we’re glad he did.

For the record, he predicts Coach LaPo will get it right this year.

His observation about the urgency brought on by the new stadium and possible return of the NHL were bang on, too.

“Those close games last year, he didn’t find a way to pull them out,” Stegall said of LaPolice. “But they have to find a way to pull them out this year. If not, you know how these fans are in Winnipeg. They’ve been waiting for 20-some years now. They better make it happen.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

At least, 95% of the time.

 


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