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‘It changed my life’: Milt Stegall reflects on time in Winnipeg ahead of Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame induction

Legendary Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Milt Stegall will be honoured again next month, this time by the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

Stegall will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Nov. 2, recognizing his 14-year career with the blue and gold.

Leading up to the event, he spoke with media on Monday, going over everything from how he got his start in Winnipeg to his favourite moment on the field.

His CFL career started in 1995, when he got hurt while attending training camp for the Green Bay Packers and was questioning if his football career would continue.

That’s when he was approached by Paul Jones, the former director of player personnel and assistant general manager for the Bombers, who asked if he would play for the Blue Bombers. Stegall said he talked to his agent and that’s when he learned he would be going to Winnipeg.

“I was like, ‘What the heck is a Winnipeg?’ I had no idea what a Winnipeg was,” said Stegall.

Stegall said he didn’t really know what the CFL was and his only experiences in Canada were previous visits to Toronto and Montreal.

“I thought everywhere was like Toronto and Montreal and I get to Winnipeg and I’m like, what is going on and it’s so flat, there’s no expressways,” Stegall said with a laugh.

It was a bumpy introduction for Stegall, but he noted the journey started to smoothen as the weeks and years went on and now he says signing in Winnipeg was the best decision he ever made.

“I am always thankful for that because, as I said, it not only changed my football life, it changed my life in general. September 1995, I don’t remember the exact date, but that month is something that’s truly embedded in my history for the rest of my life.”

That first season in 1995, Stegall was able to get into six games and he scored four touchdowns. The 1997 season was a breakout year as he totalled 1,616 yards and 14 touchdowns and he was named an all-star.

He was an all-star for every season from 2000 to 2007, with his most prolific year in 2002 when he had 105 catches for 1,862 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player for his work.

When asked what his favourite on-field moment was, Stegall jumped back to July 20, 2006 to a game against the then Edmonton Eskimos.

The Bombers won that game 25-22 and it was thanks to a 100-yard touchdown from Stegall with no time left on the clock.

“That play right there stands out to me more than any play I’ve ever made in my football life,” said Stegall.

“If I happen to catch amnesia when I’m old or whatever it may be, I will always remember that play.”

Stegall retired after the 2008 season and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

Looking ahead to his November induction to the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, he said he still thinks of his parents and what they instilled in him, especially his father.

“A lot of people ask, ‘Where do you get your mindset, your work ethic, the way you approach things?’ That’s all from my father. My father came from nothing and I thought we were rich when we were younger. I didn’t realize we were struggling because my father provided me and my four older siblings and my mother with everything because he literally worked himself to death.”

He said seeing that work from his father made him realize he had to give everything he had at whatever he did.

“I owe everything to what my father instilled in me, what he embedded in me.”

Stegall will be inducted on Nov. 2 at the Victoria Inn Hotel and Convention Centre.

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