When you’re a player trying to make it onto an NFL roster, creating a relationship with the head coach can be a critical endeavour.
Arizona Cardinals backup quarterback Chris Streveler has made his job a little easier with a shared connection to his boss: both he and head coach Kliff Kingsbury were quarterbacks for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“That was the first thing we talked about when I came down for my workout back in January,” Streveler said during his first media availability in Cardinals training camp. “He came up to me and we were just chatting about Winnipeg.”
“He had brought up to me this restaurant called Earls. That was my spot up there and back in the day he said he used to go to Earls all the time. I was like ‘man, that was the spot after games.'”
Streveler knows he’ll need more than a shared favourite restaurant with his head coach to make the roster in Arizona, but he’s learning as quickly as he can and taking it one day at a time. In particular, he’s enjoying throwing passes to star receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald.
“It’s pretty awesome. I mean those are two great players and Fitz being the legend that he is, it’s pretty cool,” Streveler smiled.
He’s also soaking up the warmer weather that Arizona has to offer and believes his decision to move there to train in March has given him a leg up in adjusting to the heat. It certainly poses a different challenge from what he became accustomed to in Winnipeg.
“I grew up in Chicago, went to Minnesota, went to South Dakota and then Winnipeg. The cold weather is nothing new to me but I’ll tell you that cold weather in Winnipeg, it hits different,” Streveler laughed.
“It is so cold up there, it is snowy and negative degrees all through the playoffs. I started to get used to that.”
While sunshine is a welcome change, Streveler’s focus is firmly on the field. He has been lauded for his potential as a Taysom Hill-type weapon, but he doesn’t pay much attention to the outside chatter.
“He’s done some great things for the Saints and obviously that’s the comparison that’s been thrown around, but that’s not something I focus on. For me, it’s just trying to be the best version of myself. Whether that’s doing similar things to what he does or not, I’m just going to take advantage of all the opportunities the coaches give me and attack them full steam ahead,” Streveler said.
“I told everyone, whether it’s special teams or getting on the field somewhere else, whatever I have to do to contribute and give myself the best chance to help the team, and the best chance to make the team, I am more than willing to do. That’s going to be my stance until the day I’m done playing football.”
That was the strategy that saw Streveler become an instant contributor in the CFL and a major reason why he was able to hoist the Grey Cup in Winnipeg. He thinks about that championship run and his CFL brethren often while at NFL training camp in Arizona.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. When you get that trophy, it’s 107 years old and that cup on top is actually 107 years old, just to think your name is on there now is kind of cool,” Streveler said with pride.
“There have been quite a few guys throughout the facility who chat me up about it because it’s kind of unique and I have nothing but good things to say about my time up in Canada.”
Word of the 2020 CFL season being cancelled has made its way to Streveler. It means his beloved Bombers won’t have a chance to defend their Grey Cup this year.
“It’s super unfortunate that the CFL season got canceled,” Streveler said. “I’ve got a lot of love for my teammates and the people up there. I know it was really tough on all of them.”