Chris Streveler is chasing the opportunity of a lifetime with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, although it is clear that he will miss Winnipeg.
And Winnipeg clearly will miss Streveler.
The 2013 Marian Central graduate was backup quarterback, with some special packages, for last season’s CFL Grey Cup champion Blue Bombers. His attitude, his exciting all-out running style and his personality endeared Streveler to Bombers fans all over.
During the championship celebration parade, Streveler went shirtless while wearing a fur coat, cowboy hat, sunglasses and jeans shorts.
Manitoba farmer Jesse Nykoliation named his prize bull, the highest-priced bull his farm ever produced, Tri-N Streveler 971G. The Charolais bull, which weighed almost 2,000 pounds, was sold to a farm in northeastern Missouri, which is owned by former major league pitcher Cliff Lee.
“[The bull] was a huge deal in Winnipeg,” Streveler said. “I get a lot of weird tweets, but I saw that and thought, ‘This is actually pretty cool.’ This whole story of this bull is insane, but it’s super-cool that their prized possession of his work is named after me. Then Cliff Lee buys him. It’s one of the weirdest stories I’ve been involved with, but it speaks to the people of Winnipeg and how much they love the Bombers.”
The fur coat story is a classic, as well.
Streveler was talking with his girlfriend, Tessa Grant, and told her if they won the Grey Cup, he was going all out for the victory parade: Fur coat, cowboy hat, jeans shorts, the whole works. A couple days later, she sent him a picture of her mother’s fur coat.
“I was like, ‘That’s going to be perfect,’ ” Streveler said. “I bought sunglasses in Toronto with the quarterbacks, I had a gold chain on [during the parade] that somebody threw to me.”
The only problem was the women’s-sized coat was too small for Streveler’s 218-pound frame, so both the armpits ripped. Plus, after the parade, it was saturated with beer and champagne.
“We had an autograph signing a couple days after that, and a lady said, ‘How bad is that coat?’ ” Streveler said. “I was like, ‘Pretty bad.’ She said she could fix it. I gave it to her, and she sewed it up, cleaned it up. It’s in pretty good condition considering what it’s been through.”
The Bombers released Streveler during the winter so he could pursue an NFL deal. He signed with Arizona in February.
The Cardinals have Kyler Murray, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Brett Hundley and Drew Anderson also on the roster at quarterback. They see Streveler as a player who could be used in multiple roles because of his size, speed and versatility.
With the success the New Orleans Saints have had using backup quarterback Taysom Hill in special packages, utilizing his speed and versatility, other teams are looking at different types of backup quarterbacks.
Streveler, who runs a sub-4.5-seconds 40-yard dash, fits that mold. He ran a lot as quarterback at Marian Central, where he was Northwest Herald Football Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012, and he did it at NCAA Division I South Dakota, where he was the 2017 Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year and runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, which is given to the top player at an FCS school.
Streveler, who grew up in Crystal Lake, moved to the Phoenix area and works out at a physical therapy facility. Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck, a Crystal Lake South graduate, also works out there. Those two played youth baseball together for the Lake in the Hills Thunder around ages 12 and 13 and now are teammates again.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Streveler has not met many of his new teammates face-to-face, including future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald and newly acquired DeAndre Hopkins, both of whom he could be throwing balls to in the future.
“We’ve been doing virtual meetings and stuff. I’m in the playbook right now, trying to learn as much as possible and be in the best shape I can be,” Streveler said.
Streveler is thrilled with his shot at the NFL but grateful for the two seasons he spent in Winnipeg.
“That is something I will treasure the rest of my life,” Streveler said. “To achieve a goal like that with those guys means the world to me. I’m so thankful for my time up there. I love my teammates, I love those coaches, and the fans in Winnipeg are outstanding. Luckily, I had some great veterans who taught me how to be a professional. It prepared me for this opportunity.
“I had such a great time. I picked up some of my teammates when I knew I was going to sign here and let them know how much I appreciated them and how much I was going to miss them. Everybody was super supportive. It was tough to leave so many people I have so much love for.”