Blue Bomber Report Record: 5–1–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It's official -- Stegall a bust

Colourful Blue legend among 7 inducted into football hall

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Pity the poor soul asked to capture Milt Stegall's visage for eternity.

This is a man of high standards, after all. A man who will tell you -- with a glint in his eye and a smirk on his face -- that he can make a $50 suit look like a million bucks.

This is a man whose trademark "Guarantees in Life" are topped with: "Milt Stegall will always be cute in the face and thin in the waist."

This is a man who, stepping off the airplane to a throng of reporters before the 2007 Grey Cup and looking positively resplendent while decked out in an old-school fedora, proclaimed:

"It's Milt Stegall style, man. I have my own style. My style, and I hate to say the word, but it's 'b-a-s-t-a-r-d' because there is no father to my style."

And so when the Canadian Football Hall of Fame's 2012 induction class unveiled their busts Thursday at McPhillips Street Station, there must have been a few folks -- especially the sculptor -- holding their breath in anticipation.

So, drum roll....

"It looks great. But you can't get Milt Stegall wrong," beamed Stegall afterward. "The only minor detail is I thought they were going to put my abs in there, that's my best attribute. But they decided they couldn't do that.

"I wish I could take it home, but it has to go back to Hamilton (to the Hall of Fame)."

Yes, if Stegall had his way his would be the only waist-up bust at the Canadian shrine.

But, in between the wisecracks Thursday, the Winnipeg Blue Bomber legend also took a few moments to reminisce about his storied career and, especially, the chapter that first brought him to Manitoba in 1995.

"I remember getting off that airplane," Stegall recalled. "It was September and I had on shorts and a T-shirt and I'm like, 'God, why did you bring me here to Winnipeg?'

"I get to the first practice and Cal Murphy is cussing me out and telling me we don't wear long sleeves and gloves here. But everything worked out great. I wouldn't change anything for the world. The way this city, the way this organization, the way the media, the way everybody treated me was truly a blessing. I call Winnipeg not my second home, but my other home. I just get great treatment here."

Every Canadian Football Hall of Fame induction class is a unique collection, but that's especially so in 2012.

The hall has honoured some greats from Canadian college football in former University of Calgary head coach Peter Connellan and Mount Allison running back Eric Lapointe, David Braley in the builder category after he single-handedly bailed out three franchises in the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts and players like Stegall, Damon Allen, Jack Abendschan and the late, great Tyrone Jones.

One of the Bombers all-time great players and characters, Jones died in 2008 after a courageous fight with brain cancer, but is represented throughout the weekend's festivities by a number of friends and family, including his older brother Artie.

"It's a great honour," said Artie. "Tyrone always spoke so highly of Canada and, especially, Winnipeg. He was always worried about not being remembered. I told him, 'As much mouth as you had when you played football, everybody will remember Tyrone Jones.'

"This would probably be beyond his wildest dreams. He would be ecstatic about being in the hall of fame."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

THE CLASS OF 2012

A capsule look at the 2012 Canadian Football Hall of Fame induction class:

MILT STEGALL

Clubs: Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 1995-2008

Awards: CFL Most Outstanding Player -- 2002; Tom Pate Award -- 2007; CFL all-star -- 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006; East all-star -- 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2007; West all-star -- 2002, 2005.

Inducted into the Bomber Hall of Fame in 2009.

HARVEY (TYRONE) JONES

(Died in 2008)

Clubs: Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 1983-1987; 1989-91; Saskatchewan Roughriders -- 1992; B.C. Lions -- 1993.

Awards: CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player -- 1985; Norm Fieldgate Trophy (top defensive player in the West) -- 1985; MVP Grey Cup Game -- 1984; CFL all-star -- 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987; West all-star -- 1984, 1985, 1986; East all-Star -- 1987, 1990.

Inducted into the Bomber Hall of Fame in 1999.

DAMON ALLEN

Clubs: Edmonton Eskimos, 1985-1988, 1993-1994; Ottawa Rough Riders, 1989-91; Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 1992; Memphis Mad Dogs, 1995; B.C. Lions, 1996-2002; Toronto Argonauts, 2003-2007

Awards: CFL Most Outstanding Player -- 2005; CFL all-star -- 2005; East all-star -- 1991, 2005; West all-star -- 1999; MVP Grey Cup Game -- 1987, 1993, 2004.

Quotable: "I'm humbled because growing up this wasn't in my sights. All I wanted to do was win championships, from Pop Warner to high school to college to the professional ranks. When you get the call you think about your career as a whole and the people that helped you along the way. You think about your parents and your family. It's the ultimate, other than winning championships."

DAVID BRALEY

Clubs: Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner/president, 1989-1991; B.C. Lions owner, 1997-present; Toronto Argonauts owner, 2010-present

Awards: CFL interim commissioner -- 2002; Has essentially saved three CFL franchises in the Ticats, Lions and Argos.

JACK ABENDSCHAN

Clubs: Saskatchewan Roughriders, 1965-1975

Awards: CFL All-Star -- 1967, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973; West All-Star -- 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973

Inducted into the Roughrider Plaza of Honour in 1992.

Quotable: "I'm just so honoured to have played with so many great players."

ERIC LAPOINTE

Clubs: Mount Allison Mounties, 1995-1998

Awards: CIAU Rookie of the Year -- 1995; Hec Crighton Trophy -- 1996, 1998.

Played with the Montreal Alouettes after college; member of the Mount Allison Sports Hall of Fame.

Quotable: "It was easily four of the greatest years of my life, to be at Mount Allison. I was a Francophone that couldn't say a word of English when I got there and I came out four years later being completely bilingual. It was a great, great experience."

PETER CONNELLAN

Clubs: Head coach, University of Calgary, 1977, 1983-1990, 1992-1995

Awards: CIAU Coach of the Year -- 1977, 1985; Canada West Coach of the Year -- 1995; 3M Canadian Coaching Association Coach of the Year -- 1990; Alberts Sports Council Provincial Coaching Recognition Award -- 1989; Norm Kimball Award -- 1985.

Inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Calgary Hall of Fame.

Quotable: "It's surprising for me. I took a look at all the people that are in here and it's still difficult to believe this situation for me, but I'm perfectly honoured and excited about it."

-- Tait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 2, 2012 C6

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