Former CFL star Stegall adjusts to retirement, is joining TSN

The Canadian Press
6/3/2009 10:15:44 PM
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Milt Stegall hasn't spent his first few months of retirement reminiscing in a rocking chair.

That wouldn't be his style.

The former Winnipeg Blue Bombers star receiver has been keeping busy since calling it quits over the winter after 14 seasons in the CFL.

"My wife, she can't believe I'm still working out like I'm playing because that's all I know," the 39-year-old Stegall said earlier this week from his Atlanta home.

Football has also been part of his daily routine since he retired in February.

He's been combing the Internet gathering information for his part-time gig this season as a guest analyst for TSN's CFL broadcasts, and started a receivers camp for college and high school players in May.

Never one to sugarcoat his opinions, he'll use that same approach in the studio for the 15 games that are on his agenda.

"They want Milt Stegall to be Milt Stegall," he said. "I can be somewhat outspoken.

"The one thing I told them is I'm going to be honest. I've been telling all the guys I've trained with, `Don't be mad, I'm going to be honest. If you're doing well, I'm going to hype you up, but if you're suffering, if you're doing bad, I'm going to let you know about that also.'

Still, he isn't going to throw people under the bus.

"I know a lot of things about a lot of guys that a lot of people who are on the panel and do broadcast don't know because I've been around so many guys, but I would never do anything to demean or backstab people."

He didn't shy away from making some early predictions, forecasting the regular-season finish in the West Division will be Calgary, Edmonton, B.C., and Saskatchewan, and in the East he's expecting a Montreal first-place finish, a tie for second between Hamilton and Winnipeg and Toronto in the cellar.

Stegall's first game for TSN is July 11 when Saskatchewan visits Toronto.

The night before, he'll be honoured at Winnipeg's home-opener against Calgary for his July 7 induction into the Bombers' Hall of Fame.

He's the only inductee this year and only the second player after former punter Bob Cameron to bypass the three-year waiting period.

There's little doubt he'll enter the Canadian Football Hall of Fame following its three-year waiting period. After all, he ended his 14-year career with a long list of CFL all-time records.

They include touchdowns (147), TD receptions (144), career receiving yards (15,153), most TDs in a season (23 in 2002), average yards per catch in a season (26.5 in 1997) and most games with a receiving TD (105).

The only accomplishment the native of Cincinnati never attained was winning a Grey Cup championship. The Bombers lost the title game to Saskatchewan in 2007 and Calgary in 2001.

The six-time CFL all-star and eight-time division all-star hasn't regretted his decision to retire, although with training camps opening this weekend he's feeling a bit homesick for the gridiron.

"It's starting to hit me now," said Stegall, who's also doing some personal training. "I haven't spent the summer in America the last 14 years. It's going to be pretty difficult, but I think the main thing is just trying to keep myself busy and not give myself a chance to think about it."

He's spent 34 years playing football so Stegall knows being out of the game is going to take some getting used to.

"I don't care how much you think you've prepared yourself, the fact that it won't be there will definitely be a void," he said. "But I know I'll eventually get over it."

Family time is also distracting him. He plans to take wife Darlene, four-year-old son Chase and 11-month old Collin on the trip to Disney World the Bombers gave him for breaking Allen Pitts' all-time receiving yardage record and maybe head to Niagara Falls this summer.

"Chase, he knows I'm not playing football anymore," Stegall said. "He's like, `You're not playing football anymore.' I'm like, `No.' He's like, `You played too long to begin with.'

"It'll be a fun summer."

Milt Stegall (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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