While awaiting the pre-game ceremony at the Dallas Stars–Winnipeg Jets game last December, I grinned knowing I had insider knowledge few others had: Chris Streveler would not be walking onto the ice in a fur coat.
Streveler, along with Winnipeg Blue Bombers teammates Andrew Harris and Nic Demski were in the building for a celebratory puck drop at Bell MTS Place.
I scrolled social media to see people betting Streveler would likely be wearing the cowboy hat and golden chain, but if not, he would undoubtedly be rocking the fur coat.
After all the muskrat pelt was the talk of Winnipeg. But as Streveler walked to centre ice, his outfit was far more timid: a nameless Jets jersey, skinny jeans, and a black toque.
Why? Well, the iconic fur coat was instead hanging up in my basement.
Yes, you read that right. And yes, Streveler knew this.
Coat Belongs to Streveler’s Girlfriend’s Mother
For his team’s Grey Cup parade, the Bombers’ quarterback borrowed the coat from his girlfriend’s mother.
“She was great and was just telling me that oh my fur coat’s kind of famous now,” said Streveler, fearing the rips would’ve made his girlfriend’s mother mad.
After Streveler’s raucous afternoon it’s a mini-miracle the coat stayed in one piece.
“I didn’t notice until I took it off at the end and I was like ‘oh man this is actually bad,’” said Streveler.
The coat had at least a dozen rips, including a giant tear underneath each armpit. And not to mention the beer and liquor stains crusting its entire collar and absorbing within the fur.
The coat was mangled, which is why my mother Lisa told Streveler during his meet-n-greet at the RBC Convention Centre that she could sew it back together
“Well, I just wanted to help him. He’s a kid right, in my opinion, he’s a kid,” my mother later told me when talking about the 25-year-old quarterback.
He answered “That would be great. You would do that? It doesn’t belong to me.”
Meeting Chris Streveler
Full disclosure: Chris Streveler wasn’t exactly a stranger to my mother. At the meet-n-greet, she initially told Chris that she’s my mother, which Chris recognized.
Chris and I first met in August 2018. My friend recognized him standing beside us, so we approached him to talk about football. Chris was sporting a Steve Nash retro Phoenix Suns jersey, which at the time he said was his way of supporting Canada.
A HA HAAA pic.twitter.com/v2p1VrifUb
— Nik Kowalski (@nik_kowalski) September 1, 2019
I say Chris because I also consider him a friend. He’s exactly as advertised — incredibly down to earth. He even messaged us to make sure we got home safe that night in 2018, no lie.
If you were one of the hundreds to meet him that final week, you’d understand what I mean. He’s genuine even while speaking with strangers coveting a selfie and a handshake.
Dropping off the Coat
Logistically for Streveler, it made the most sense to drop off the fur coat at my girlfriend’s work at Mercedes-Benz. This was hours before dropping the puck at the Jets game, which was his final day in Winnipeg.
Streveler walked into the dealership, carrying a massive white garbage bag containing the coat. Not a single worker or customer approached him, which I find amusing.
From there the coat made its way to the east side of Winnipeg and to my house. My mother spent over eight hours repairing the pelt, discovering new holes as she fixed others.
“Not only did I have to sew the pelts under the arms together but I had to sew the lining all back together too,” she told me.
“What was the hardest part?” I then asked.
“The back, actually fixing all those little holes because it was so heavy to move.”
It weighs at least five pounds, and surprisingly there wasn’t a booze stench from the coat — I can vouch for that.
— Nik Kowalski (@nik_kowalski) November 26, 2019
Fur Coat’s Future Undecided
My mother has since returned the fur coat.
“I was really appreciative they let me wear it because I had that idea a long time before the Grey Cup,” said Streveler.
Chris Streveler dawning the fur coat that afternoon cemented another moment in Blue Bombers’ history. The coat has inspired paintings, look-a-like costumes, tattoos, and Christmas cards with proceeds going to charity.
“Somebody at one point mentioned giving it to the hall of fame, or potentially auctioning it off for charity or something like that,” said Streveler. “Those are the two things we’ve thought about, it matters what they want to do as it’s obviously their coat.”
And for Streveler, he wants Winnipeggers to remember him more for his work ethic.
“I hope the people of Winnipeg and my teammates remember me as someone who was going to give everything I have, every single play, every single day,” said Streveler.
Now signed with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, Chris Streveler and the fur coat will always be Grey Cup champions. And that’s all there is to it.
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