'The best week of my life': Bombers' Streveler on the fun, the fashion and the future
One more night of adulation, this time from a hockey crowd, and Chris Streveler will finally say goodbye to Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ parade marshal, fashion trendsetter and do-it-all quarterback will be part of a ceremonial faceoff honouring the Grey Cup champs at Tuesday’s Jets game, capping a week he’ll never forget.
“Maybe the best week of my life,” Streveler told the Winnipeg Sun on Monday. “A crazy whirlwind. Getting to spend so much time with fans and see how much this means to them. And spending so much time with teammates — it’s just been unbelievable. I mean, so many events around the city. And just to see everybody’s reaction, it’s been honestly unbelievable.”
The 24-year-old took part in both events over the weekend — a social at the Convention Centre that drew between 2,500 and 3,000 people, and a family-friendly celebration that the Bombers say attracted more than 5,000 — not even bothering to go home for American Thanksgiving.
The holiday comes around every year, after all.
What he saw over the last week doesn’t.
“You don’t win the Grey Cup every year,” Streveler said. “Leading up to this you hear everyone talking about how much it means to them. But I don’t think I really, really realized how much it meant to everyone until we were at the parade and seeing people go absolutely insane. People as far as the eye can see, people are crying, throwing beers up, whatever — that was really eye-opening for me.
“The parade was probably the coolest experience I’ve ever had in my life… I don’t know if I’ll ever be part of something like that again.”
Celebrating with teammates, some of whom have played for years and never won the Cup, was equally satisfying for a man who’s only been in the CFL for two.
“I’m only in my second year and I know it means a heck of a lot to me,” Streveler said. “So I don’t even know how much it means to somebody who’s maybe been in the league for 10 years and hasn’t even made it to a Cup.”
The Bombers ended a 28-year championship drought by beating Hamilton, 33-12, in Calgary.
The game’s indelible moments likely won’t outshine the signature image from Tuesday’s parade: a shirtless Streveler in a fur coat, gold chain, jean shorts, a cowboy hat and sunglasses, showered with adulation — and more than a couple of beers — along with his teammates.
The story behind the outfit goes back a couple of months, when he was “spitballin’” with his girlfriend about what he’d wear if the Bombers went all the way.
“I got the coat from my girlfriend’s mom,” he said. “Me, Matt (Nichols) and Sean (McGuire) all bought those sunglasses in Toronto when we were there for a game from some knock-off sunglass stand. The cowboy hat I acquired when I was in Calgary. The gold chain, somebody just threw to me in the middle of the parade, and I caught it.
“The jean shorts I came in already prepared with those. So that was all ready to rock ‘n roll.”
On Wednesday, Streveler will take his show on the road, crisscrossing the U.S. to visit family and friends he didn’t see for Thanksgiving.
Will he be back?
A free agent come February, along with Nichols and playoff starter Zach Collaros, Streveler says he’s told the Bombers he’d love to return.
“I love Winnipeg,” he said. “It’s an awesome place. Kind of feels like home to me at this point.”