Bombers’ Stegall loves Labour Day Classic
WINNIPEG — It can be absolute hell for the uninitiated or unprepared. But for Milt Stegall a trip to Regina to face the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the annual Labour Day Classic is a slice of pure heaven on earth.
Yes, and that even includes the verbal abuse he and his Winnipeg Blue Bomber teammates hear from sunrise to sundown upon their arrival in the Queen City.
“They try to say I’m ugly, but that’s an oxymoron — Milt Stegall and ugly,? the loquacious one began after Thursday’s practice. “They try to say I’m old, shoot, I’ve known that for years. I’m the oldest guy in the league so that’s no big deal.
“They try to say I’m not as good as (Hall of famer) Allen Pitts. I always said Allen Pitts was the best receiver so that doesn’t hurt me.
“They try to say my hair is falling out, I keep that bald so they can’t see that. They try to say my legs are skinny. I just say I have a well-proportioned body, I have a big upper body so I’m like a capital Y.’’ Stegall was just getting started. “They try to say their province is better than ours but I didn’t even know Saskatchewan was considered North America so we won’t talk about that. Some of the other things they say are R-rated and I know this is a family show, so I’ll keep those things under wraps.?
The Bomber legend enjoys Labour Day as much as any other game — outside of the Grey Cup. And it’s those kind of moments the receiving legend will miss when he hangs up his cleats for good.
“I like that environment, it’s a true football environment,? said Stegall. “If you can’t get hyped and amped and excited about something like that then you need to go home and get another job. It’s hard to express unless you’re on that field going through it.
“After the game I’ll say stuff to (the fans), but it’s all respect because they respect us. Win, lose or draw, after the game those fans are very respectful and that’s why I respect them. They say a lot of crazy things during the game but after the game, no matter what happened, they say, ‘You’ve done great things for the league; we love when you guys come here; we love watching you play.’ All the conversations after the game are good conversations.?
Stegall enters Sunday’s game 112 yards shy of passing Pitts to become the CFL’s all-time receiving yardage leader. Pitts accomplished the feat (14,891 yards) in 176 games; Stegall is at 14,780 in 172 games.