Milt Stegall Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Photo John Bradley
The Winnipeg Football Club has 90 years of history to celebrate, dating way back to the days of leather helmets and the Great Depression.
Over that time there have been countless great plays authored by superstar players… and average Joes, too. There have been memorable games featuring iconic moments and, dating back to 1930, this franchise has captured a Grey Cup championship 11 times.
Each week bluebombers.com cracks open the record book, dusts off the archives and dives deep into our collective memory banks for our Top 10 Exclusive list.
This week: Top 10 Milt Stegall Moments
It was the legend himself who made notice of it last weekend with a tweet:
— Milt Stegall (@MiltStegallTSN) September 19, 2020
Yes, 25 years ago this past weekend Milt Stegall suited up for his first game with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. It was the first chapter in what would become a memorable career for the receiver, all played in Blue Bombers colours.
And, naturally, the Canadian Football League’s all-time touchdown leader scored in his very first game.
As a tribute to the man and the legend, this week’s Top 10 looks at some of the most-memorable moments in his football career:
1. Turtle Man Becomes The TD King: July 27, 2007
Stegall took a one-yard shovel pass from Kevin Glenn in front of a sold-out crowd at Canad Inns Stadium to move past George Reed and Mike Pringle and become the CFL’s all-time touchdown leader with 138. He would score again later in the same game on a 35-yard pass from Glenn for No. 139 and finish his career with 147 – a record that seems destined to stand for eons.
2. Welcome to the Hall(s) – July 7, 2009/November 2, 2012
The Winnipeg Football Club didn’t wait long to add Stegall to its’ hall of fame, inducting him in 2009 – just a few months after he had announced his retirement.
The Canadian Football Hall of Fame would follow not long after, inducting him into its shrine in 2012 at a ceremony held in Winnipeg.
3. A Ring of Honour, Street Name and Key to the City: August 3, 2016/August 26, 2007
Stegall was added to the Bombers Ring of Honour in 2016 as part of the inaugural class that was unveiled during each home game that season.
In August of 2007, not long after breaking the TD record, he was honoured with the Order of the Buffalo Hunt, given a key to the city, and saw Arena Road (which used to lead up to the old Winnipeg Arena), renamed Milt Stegall Drive.
4. No. 23 for No. 85: October 27, 2002
The Bombers dominated the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton, building a 28-0 lead before a late score prevented a shutout. That night also saw Stegall score his 23rd TD of the season, breaking the CFL record of 22 set by Cory Philpot in 1995 when he was with the B.C. Lions.
Stegall also set the Bombers’ single-season receiving yardage record that night, passing James Murphy’s mark of 1,746. He would add on to his total a week later and finish the season with 1,896 yards receiving.
5. Capping an MOP season: November 22, 2002
Stegall’s numbers were jaw-dropping in 2002 as he pulled in 106 passes for 1,896 yards and 23 touchdowns. That year he led the league in receptions, receiving yards, yards from scrimmage, touchdowns, receiving touchdowns and 100-yard receiving games.
Stegall was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player for his efforts, meaning a Bomber had captured the award in successive seasons after Khari Jones was honoured in 2001.
Alas, the Bombers had fallen 33-30 to Edmonton in the West Final and were not playing in the Grey Cup the night Stegall was presented with the MOP award.
6. TD Record and yardage, too… for a while: September 12, 2008
Milt had already eclipsed the CFL’s TD record a year earlier, but in a 39-9 win over the Argonauts in Toronto Stegall tied Allen Pitts’ CFL career receiving-yardage record on a 16-yard TD pass. He then broke it in spectacular fashion, pulling in a 92-yard pass from Kevin Glenn.
Stegall finished with 15,153 career receiving yards and held that record for four years before he was eclipsed by Geroy Simon in 2012. Stegall’s mark still ranks second.
7. The 100-yard Miracle: July 20, 2006
Stegall was having a solid night receiving in a late July game in Edmonton. But the Esks had taken a 22-19 lead with just 15 seconds left and his numbers were going to be viewed as an afterthought in a certain loss.
But on the game’s last play Kevin Glenn found Stegall, who split a couple of defenders and raced 100 yards for the winning score.
He finished the night with 10 catches for 254 yards and the TD. The 254 yards receiving was the single-game best in his career and ranks second on the Bombers’ all-time list, behind only Alfred Jackson’s 308.
8. The TDs in Bunches: October 6, 2002/October 10, 2005
The Bombers’ regular-season record for TDs in a single game is six, set by Bob McNamara in 1956. Ernie Pitts almost matched that in 1959 with a five-TD game.
Twice in Stegall’s career he crossed the goal-line four times in a game – the first October 6, 2002 in a 35-32 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders; the second on October 10, 2005 in a 44-23 victory over B.C.
9. A Legend Off the Field, too – Stegall Wins Tom Pate Memorial Award: November 22, 2007
Stegall’s spectacular 2007 season saw him become the all-time TD king and the Bombers did advance to the Grey Cup that year – falling to Saskatchewan.
But during Grey Cup week Stegall was honoured with the Tom Pate Memorial Award, selected annually by the Canadian Football League Players’ Association and given to a player ‘with outstanding sportsmanship and someone who has made significant contribution to his team, his community and Association.’
It is named after Tom Pate, who was a 23-year-old rookie with Hamilton when he was critically injured in a game in 1975 and died three days later.
10. The First of Many: September 19, 1995
Stegall’s name isn’t even in the Bombers’ 1995 Media Guide, as he was signed during the season and suited up for the last six games of the ’95 season. In his first-ever CFL game – a 43-28 loss to the Stampeders in Calgary – Stegall finished with six catches for 93 yards and a 14-yard TD pass from Kevin McDougal with 24 seconds remaining. It was, of course, the first of many scores.