Milton Eugene "Milt" Stegall (born January 25, 1970) is a former professional gridiron football player who played 17 years of professional football, three years in the National Football League with the Cincinnati Bengals and 14 years in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Stegall was an All-Star receiver for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. Spanning an illustrious 14-year career from 1995–2008, he held several major CFL records upon his retirement including most career receiving yards, and currently holds the record for career receiving touchdowns and most touchdowns scored. In 2012, he was elected into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
Stegall was born in Cincinnati, the fifth of five children of Betty Stegall (b. 1935) and Garland J. Stegall (1922–1987). He attended Roger Bacon High School, where he was an All State football player, All City basketball player and qualified for the state track meet his senior year. Stegall started playing football at age 4 for now defunct Parchman & Oyler Pop Warner Football. During a three-year span (ages 8–10), Stegall scored 87 touchdowns playing running back, a record still held today.
Stegall attended Miami University, where he was a four-year football letterman from 1988 to 1991. Stegall finished with 106 receptions for 1,581 yards, and eight touchdowns as a wide receiver. Because of his speed (he competed on Miami's track and field team where he holds the 3rd fastest 100 meter dash, 10.44 seconds, and 5th fastest 200 meter dash, 21.24 seconds) he was also a dynamic tap dancer, and kick returner, setting a career record of 1,377 kick return yards which lasted until 2002, beaten by defensive back Milt Bowen, who like Stegall signed with the Cincinnati Bengals after college. All of these accomplishments garnered Stegall an honorable mention all-Mid-American Conference selection as a junior.
Stegall signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cincinnati Bengals. He played 21 games over 3 seasons, where he had four receptions for 43 yards and one touchdown. He was primarily played as a kick returner though, where he totaled 446 yards off of 26 kickoffs and made five tackles on special teams. In the 1995 season, he was signed as a free agent by the Green Bay Packers, but was a late cut after a serious knee injury during the final days of training camp.
In 1995, Stegall decided to go north to the Canadian Football League and signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers where he played the final 6 games of the 1995 CFL season, with 469 receiving yards, and two punt returns, one for 80 yards. In his first full season in 1996, he gained 613 yards receiving on 34 catches for 6 touchdowns.
Stegall started out as a slotback/wide receiver, garnering him an All-Star selection in the 1997 season after having a 1616-yard season. Soon however, Stegall made the switch to slotback which let him start the play closer to the middle of the larger field. Stegall flourished as a slotback, where in the CFL a player is allowed a running start before the play to gain momentum, being able to outrun defenders with his impressive speed. Stegall would go on to get 3 more All-Star selections as a slotback, peaking in 2002 where he had one of the greatest individual seasons in CFL history. He led the CFL in receptions (106), receiving yards (1,896), yards from scrimmage (1,896), touchdowns (23), receiving touchdowns (23), 100-yard games (10), 100-yard receiving games (10), average yards per catch (17.9) and non-kicker scoring (140). He set a new league single-season record for touchdowns with 23 and a new league single-season record for receiving touchdowns, also with 23. All of these made him the obvious choice as the CFL's Most Outstanding Player.
Stegall has continued his excellence throughout the seasons with the Blue Bombers. Throughout his career, Stegall has led the CFL in receptions once, he twice led the league in receiving yards and he led the league in touchdown receptions 5 times. In 2005 at age 35, some thought Stegall's play would be on the decline, but he shrugged off critics by capping off the season with his 5th All-Star selection. Amidst endless offensive coordinator changes, as well as many head coach changes, Stegall still has remained a reliable, and at times unstoppable force for the Blue Bombers. Arguably one of the most popular Bombers of all time he was named to the All-Time 75th Anniversary Team. With the 2005 season over, there was speculation that Stegall would retire, but he soon announced that he would in fact be returning for, at least, one more year. In the 5th game of the Bombers' 2007 season, July 27, 2007, Milt Stegall became the all-time CFL touchdown leader on a 1-yard pass originally designed as a running play for the occasion, surpassing running backs Mike Pringle and George Reed, and went on to score another major before the end of the game to bring his total up to that point to 139 touchdowns. Stegall said that he was 99.9% sure that he was going to retire after then 2007 season but on January 31, 2008, announced he was returning to the Bombers for another year. (He also signed for an option year in 2009) Stegall has attributed his long and consistent career to a strict work out.
On September 12, 2008, Stegall initially tied Allen Pitts with a 16-yard touchdown reception to become the CFL's all-time leader in career receiving yards. Shortly thereafter, Stegall surpassed Pitts with a highlight reel 92-yard touchdown catch and run, totaling 14,982 yards in his career. On June 29, 2012, he was surpassed by Geroy Simon of the BC Lions and is currently second in career receiving yards.
Although he has played in the CFL for many years, has accomplished impressive numbers, and is considered by many to be the greatest receiver in CFL history, Stegall never won the Grey Cup, although he has reached the Grey Cup game twice: 89th Grey Cup vs. Calgary and 95th Grey Cup vs. Saskatchewan.
Stegall officially retired from professional football on February 18, 2009.
Stegall is one of the most popular CFL players among the media. He was voted the best looking man in the CFL. He often gets praise from his teammates for his work ethic, personality, and leadership.
On June 3, 2009, it was announced that Stegall would join TSN as an analyst for their CFL broadcasts throughout the 2009 CFL season.
Stegall and his wife Darlene are the parents of two sons, Chase Hamilton and Colin Hunter. Stegall made it clear one of the conditions he would hold off retirement and return to playing was if his wife gave birth in the city. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
On July 20, 2006, Milt Stegall scored the winning 100-yard touchdown reception to lead the Blue Bombers to a 25–22 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos with no time left. Milt Stegall had 254 yards in the game, perhaps the best game of his career.
On December 12, 2006, Stegall signed a one-year contract extension to stay with Winnipeg for the 2007 season, but indicated that "there's basically no chance" that he will return beyond 2007.
On June 28, 2007, Milt Stegall scored the game tying touchdown versus the Edmonton Eskimos to tie the all-time touchdown record, shared with George Reed and Mike Pringle at 137 Touchdowns.
On July 27, 2007, Milt Stegall became CFL's all-time touchdown leader after scoring his 138th touchdown against the Hamilton Tiger-cats. He managed to score two touchdowns that night, and stands at 144 Touchdowns as of October 28, 2007.
On August 24, 2007, the premier of Manitoba honoured Stegall with the Order of the Buffalo Hunt.
On August 24, 2007, the mayor of Winnipeg honoured Stegall with the key to the city. He also was honoured with a street in Winnipeg adjacent to Canad Inns Stadium formerly called Arena Road (in reference to the former Winnipeg Arena) which was renamed Milt Stegall Drive.
On September 12, 2008 Milt Stegall became the leader in receiving yards, moving past Allen Pitts' previous record. The record is now held by Geroy Simon.
On August 3, 2016, at halftime of the Blue Bombers home game against the Tiger-Cats, Stegall was inducted into the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Ring of Honour.
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|1997||WPG||18||61||1616||26.5||105||14||Team did not qualify|
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- Most TDs in a career – 147
- Most TD receptions in a career – 144
- Most TDs in one season – 23 (2002)
- Most TD receptions in one season – 23 (2002)
- Most yards per catch in a season – 26.5 (1997)
- Most yards in one season by a Bombers receiver – 1896 (2002)
- Most 1000+ yard receiving seasons by a Bombers receiver – 10
- Most career yards receiving by a Bombers receiver −15,153
- CFL Most Outstanding Player – 2002
- Named as receiver in top passing tandem in CFL history together with Khari Jones
- In 2006 was named 15th on the CFL's Top 50 players of the modern era by Canadian sports network TSN.