The origins of Chris Streveler’s popularity in this province officially began back in 2018, when he was suddenly thrust into the starting quarterback role with an injury to Matt Nichols on the eve of the season.
And by the time his days with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were done – his last game was the 2019 Grey Cup before he signed with the Arizona Cardinals – that popularity had morphed into a phenomenon in every sense of the word.
That transformation saw him go from the aww-shucks-fresh-from-college prospect to a shirtless dude wrapped inside a fur coat, while sporting a pair of jorts, a cowboy hat and a beer in each hand at the Grey Cup parade celebration.
As unlikely as it may seem, his legend only seemed to grow further over the course of 2020 after he signed with the Cardinals. It grew, in part, because of his continuing salute to the role the Blue Bombers and the Canadian Football League had in launching his career down south.
That story comes in at #4 on our abridged version of our Bombers Year in Review series.
“Signing with Winnipeg was the best move I ever could have made,” said Streveler during a conversation with bluebombers.com this past summer after he had settled into Arizona. “Making that decision and pulling the trigger to come up to Winnipeg right away, just trusting my gut and my instincts, it really paid off. I wouldn’t be in this position now had it not been for making that decision.”
“It’s funny to think back about all those little decisions that have led me to this point, even going back to Minnesota and wondering whether I should transfer (to South Dakota) or not. And then LaPo (former Bombers offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice) reached out to me after my senior season and I trusted the relationship we had built up over the phone and signed with Winnipeg. It’s worked out great. Things could definitely been a lot different if I had made a different decision here or there.”
After he had recovered from the foot/ankle injury he fought through late in the ’19 season – his grittiness endearing him to the Bombers fan base – Streveler had workouts with three NFL teams: Arizona, along with Tampa and Miami.
“When I left the Arizona workout I felt really, really good about what they would potentially have me doing,” Streveler said. “Meeting with (Arizona head coach) Kliff Kingsbury and talking with him and knowing what they do offensively with Kyler (Murray, QB) and being a no huddle-type team I felt like it fit in with some of my strengths.
“I wanted to do my due diligence and work out with the other teams but, ultimately, Arizona felt like the best fit and I couldn’t be happier with how it worked out.”
Interestingly, Streveler landed with an organization that has some connections with the Bombers. Kingsbury backed up Ryan Dinwiddie for the Bombers in the 2007 Grey Cup while the Cardinals QB coach is Tom Clements – a member of the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame and the starting pivot in the 1984 Grey Cup win.
Streveler’s connection with Bombers fans hardly ended when he set up shop in the Arizona desert. He did an Instagram live chat from Tempe with Bombers fans that lasted for hours and, naturally, featured him chugging a couple of beers after taking off his shirt.
And when he made his NFL debut for Arizona in their season-opening win over the San Francisco 49ers – he rushed once for three yards and a first down – the media demand for him was so large the Cardinals set up a Zoom conference call.
It turns out the fan support he was getting on social media wasn’t just limited to Winnipeg and Manitoba, either.
“It’s just been crazy to see… I mean, as crazy as it is, I’ve even been getting Riders fans tweeting at me… ‘I hate the Bombers, but I got to root for this guy.’ I’m like, ‘Wow, I know it took a lot for that person to tweet that because that probably hurt them to say,” said Streveler during the media call in September.
“… I’ve heard a lot from (former Bombers teammates). It obviously means the world to me because leaving Winnipeg was tough for me just because of the relationships I’d built with teammates and coaches and even fans up there. So, to get to hear from so many of those guys and those guys showing some love on social media and texting me personally, it honestly means the world to know those guys are supporting me and happy for this opportunity that I’m getting right now.
“It’s really cool to get to have so many people that are showing love and support from different areas of North America now at this point. It’s been really, really cool and I really appreciate it.”
Streveler’s contributions to the Cards this season have been limited, even after beating out a couple of NFL vets in Brett Hundley and Drew Anderson to land the No. 2 job.
That said, his legend in these parts only grew further not just because of his work in the ’19 playoff run, but as he made himself available to so many fans both after the Grey Cup run and on social media interactions since.
He’s also genuine when he mentions the impact his days in Winnipeg had on his career and the memories he helped create. That was encapsulated when he was asked to comment on what the Grey Cup ring represents to him.
“It’s just going to remind me of all the good times I had with the dudes in that locker room and the times up in Winnipeg,” he said. “Obviously the run through the Grey Cup and the playoffs and everything like that was really special. But more than anything I just think about those teammates that I had up there. Great friends, coaches, guys that I’ve built lifelong relationships with. That’s more what it means to me. Obviously, the wins are great, but you remember the people and the impact they had on you more than anything.”
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