March 14, 2024

‘I’m just so fired up to be back around the people that I love.”

Chris Streveler was positively buzzing when he first walked into the building Thursday morning, with his own personal amperage spiking when he met old and new Winnipeg Blue Bombers teammates in the weight room and then through a visit with the media not long after.

So, just a guess here but should the power have somehow dropped at IG Field at any time during Streveler’s return, crews could have plugged directly into him as an energy source and kept the joint operational for hours on end.

“It’s great, man. Good to be here. Flying in, getting back to the city… it feels real,” he said moments after stepping behind the podium in the media room. “It feels real that I’m coming back, and I couldn’t be more excited to see guys around the building right now. You can hear it in my voice. I’m just so fired up to be back around the people that I love.”

Streveler’s return to the Blue Bombers after five years in the National Football League was the bow on some solid work by the club’s management in free agency this winter. The team took some hits, no doubt, but was able to re-sign both Dalton Schoen and Brady Oliveira – both of whom were just days from hitting the market – while getting 18 others to stay in Blue Bomber colours.

Streveler, meanwhile, gives the offence a unique dimension in Buck Pierce’s offence and experience behind No. 1 gun Zach Collaros, especially after Dru Brown was traded to Ottawa prior to becoming a free agent.

The player they get now, it’s worth noting, is also light years removed from the fresh-faced kid straight out of college who was thrust into a starting role to open the 2018 season when Matt Nichols was injured and then helped the team earn a Grey Cup a year later while working on a broken ankle.

“I know I’ve gotten better,” he said. “I know I’ve grown over the past five years. I know I’ve become a better quarterback just from the standpoint of I had another five years to work my ass off to get better. From that standpoint, I’ve gotten better. I’ve got to be in the room with some of the greats of all time to ever play this game, some of the best in the world so I’ve gotten to be a sponge, so to speak, and soak up what makes those guys great and try to apply those things to my game.

“I’m really excited, again, just to play football and try to apply the things I’ve learned these past five years being down south and all this work I’ve put in but haven’t got to play a ton. I have a lot of energy and passion for this game and I’m really excited to apply that.”

Streveler, who is in town this weekend primarily to get his visa in order for his return to training camp in May, is also squeezing in promotional appearances, including an autograph signing session along with Stanley Bryant at The Bomber Store on Saturday.

He said his role now with the team will go beyond what he can bring to the field, but to the locker room as a man who has won a championship, but also been pulled through the wringer down south.

“I did a speaking engagement this morning… when you get cut four times in a matter of six months, you’re going to learn a lot about yourself and what makes you tick and how you respond to adversity,” Streveler said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned how I handle adversity and how I’m going to bounce back when things are bad and how I’m going to be on a day-to-day basis. How I’m going to be as a leader both in the building and outside of the building. I just have a good sense of who I am and what I’m about and what I can bring to this team.”

Streveler later explained in our chat on ‘The Huddle’ how he has ‘FIFO’ – the Blue Bombers’ slogan for their locker room culture – tattooed on his left leg and he would occasionally explain the meaning of it to NFL teammates. That’s an important foundational part for his attitude heading into this season.

His experience matters, so does his perspective. Just as important is walking back into a building where everything is familiar, including that unwavering commitment to winning.

“It’s really important. It’s really big,” he said. “I mean you think about what’s happened to me, like I’ve been on four or five teams every year. So, I’m always the new guy, I’m always having to introduce myself. And it’s been great for my growth, like, how do you be the new guy? How do you relate to people that don’t really know you, don’t know what you’re about. How do you show them who you’re about. So, I’ve learned that about myself and to just come here, be around guys who are like, again I walk in the weight room and it’s, ‘Strev, what’s up?’ I know these guys.

“It feels like home. It feels like home. I walk in this building, it’s got a certain smell, it’s got a certain feel. It smells and feels like football season. And it’s just comfortable. And I think there’s something to be said for me getting to be somewhere where I’m comfortable and can immediately step in and be myself, as opposed to going into a new building where no one knows me, and I’ve got to re-prove myself and re-show everyone who I am. People here to a certain extent know what I’m about and know the type of person that I am, so that allows me to just fit in a bit more seamlessly and be myself from Day 1.”

Among those he came across in the morning, FYI, were Pat Neufeld, Willie Jefferson, Kenny Lawler, Nic Demski and head coach Mike O’Shea. Again, there’s comfort in familiarity.

“These are people that I genuinely love,” Streveler acknowledged. “And these are people that supported me outside of this building. It’s been five years. That’s a long time. And these are people that have still kept in touch, still supported me every step of the way. You win a championship with people, that’s a bond that’s unbreakable.

“I love those guys and I’m just so excited to be back in this building. And I feel their excitement and I’m excited and it’s important coming off a tough ending to the season to have that fresh excitement for the season and that fresh energy going into training camp. I felt that when I’m talking to those guys, I feel that for myself. That’s what I’m excited to bring.”