There’s always a reason behind a player choosing a jersey number. Find out why Milt Stegall wore number eighty-five during his 14-year career.
Marika Washchyshyn spoke to the CFL on TSN panelists about the numbers they wore throughout their football careers and the story behind their choice. Here’s part of her interview with Milt Stegall.
Did you choose your first number?
Milt Stegall (MS): I was given thirty-seven – I kept it for eight or nine years because I played with the same organization all the way up to high school and they just kept giving it to me every single year. If they had given me a different number, it probably wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I guess they figured I had been wearing it for so long…I played with the same coaches, so I kept getting the same number.
How did the way you felt about the game and your number change over time?
MS: When I got to high school it changed, and they were real strict with numbers. Only kickers and quarterbacks could wear numbers under 20. So I chose 20 because that was the closest I could get to a number under 20! When I got to college, 87 was in my locker, so that’s what I wore. Then I wore 8, and then when I got to Winnipeg, 85 was one of the available ones so that’s why I wore that one! (laughing)
I know it sounds strange but I never idolized any football players. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed watching games but I never said “I want to be like that guy.” My parents were so influential in my life, those were the people I idolized.
What’s your favourite all-time CFL number?
MS: I enjoy that number. A buddy of mine, Harold Nash, he played with me in Winnipeg and Edmonton. He wore that number and I just enjoyed watching him play in 00.
Anything else about numbers, yours or otherwise?
MS: There is none [significance]. I think guys are just superstitious, thinking that if they have a certain number they’re going to play better. But it is what it is, it’s just a number. If I had been forced to wear another number it wouldn’t have made a difference to me because a number doesn’t make the player. But I know some guys are superstitious about it…to me, it’s just a number.
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