One year ago, Chris Streveler spent Canadian Thanksgiving weekend digging out from Winnipeg’s record-setting October snowstorm and helping the Blue Bombers end a three-game losing streak.
Fast-forward 12 months, and the 25-year-old quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals spent it flying to New York and back, where his team ended its two-game slide against the NFL’s winless Jets.
Streveler carried some precious cargo for his latest trip, and while it’s too soon to call it a good-luck charm, he sure felt lucky to be able to share it with his first-year NFL teammates.
“I just got my Grey Cup ring this week, so I wore it on the plane when we flew out,” Streveler said during a chat with the Winnipeg Sun on Monday. “I showed it off to everyone. It’s something that I’m really, really proud of. And it’s something that no one can ever take away from us.”
Because he’d been so consumed with diving into NFL training camp and the start of the season, Streveler hadn’t made arrangements to get his ring shipped down sooner.
But the wait was worth it.
“Guys are pretty impressed,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Man, this is awesome. It’s got some weight behind it.’ I tell everyone when I put that thing on, I feel like I’m acting totally different. You’ve got this big diamond ring on, you know what I mean?”
Sounds like it has the same effect as a fur coat, cigar and a few beers.
“It’s cool to get to show that off and talk to guys about my time up there and how great it was. I love doing that.”
There are NFL players who say all the right things about their time in the CFL, and then there’s Streveler, who feels every word he says.
“I know for me it’s been a different journey,” he said. “You don’t see a lot of guys from up there, quarterbacks, come down here. But I don’t really run from that journey. I love talking about the CFL, I love tellin’ ’em how great players there are up there, how much I loved my time up there.
“When I do get the chance to think back on it and see pictures or videos of that season or that week after the Grey Cup, it always just brings back so many emotions.”
As for his current team, the Cards improved to 3-2 with the win over the Jets, Streveler dressing as the only backup quarterback for all five games.
He carried the ball once for three yards and a first down in his debut and has been on the field for a couple more plays, but not over the last two games.
Five games into his NFL career, though, he’s far more comfortable than he was five games into his CFL career.
You may recall he was forced to start the first three games of his rookie season when Matt Nichols was hurt.
“I was still learning on the fly at this point in the CFL,” he said. “Getting thrown in my first three games having to start was just so much trial by fire. I was forced to learn in game situations. It’s a completely new game. I had been in Canada for, like, two weeks… so you’re in a completely new country playing a completely different game in an offence that you’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Streveler had joined the Bombers straight out of the University of South Dakota. He learned quickly and became the first true rookie quarterback to start a CFL game in 25 years.
Heading south, he again surprised many by earning the No. 2 position, and when he ran the ball for Arizona in Week 1 he became the first former CFL quarterback to run a play in the NFL since Jeff Garcia, 11 years ago.
Next week he’ll visit Dallas for the first time and take part in his first Monday nighter, against the storied Cowboys.
“Everything this season for me is going to be a first, right?” Streveler said. “I’m really excited about all the opportunities I get, all the opportunities we get as a team. We’re excited to get back after it now that we’re in the win column, and just keep it rolling here.”
When he’s not getting into games, every practice becomes a live rep to learn from.
What better way to test himself than against a starting NFL defence?
“The speed of the NFL is obviously something I needed to adjust to, and windows and timing are different,” he said. “I’m always trying to make plays against them. The cards are stacked against you on scout team. I always take that as a challenge and try to replicate those reps and make them as game-like as I can… learn from every mistake and every good play that happens in practice. When you get those opportunities in games, hopefully it carries over.”
Until then, he’ll work, learn, prepare and try to give the Cards’ defence the best challenge he can.