Blue Bombers fan hopes 18-year pants-less streak ends as he heads to Grey Cup
Chris Matthew could put on pants if Winnipeg ends lengthy title drought
A Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan who hasn't worn pants in 18 years was gifted tickets to Sunday's Grey Cup in Calgary with the hopes of watching his favourite team end its title drought — and bringing an end to his pant-less streak.
In late November 2001, Chris Matthew told some friends he wouldn't wear pants until the Bombers won the CFL championship, figuring his team would win it a few days later when they faced the Calgary Stampeders.
Winnipeg lost that year — and hasn't won since. The team's Grey Cup drought currently sits at 28 years.
This Sunday might be the first time Matthew puts on a pair — save a few funerals — in nearly two decades.
The Bombers advanced to the championship game after defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders 20-13 in the West final last weekend in Regina. If his team bests the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the Grey Cup on Sunday evening, then his pant-less streak will come to an end.
Matthew, a Winnipeg resident and retired school teacher, said he received an out-of-the-blue phone call on Saturday that changed the trajectory of his weekend plans.
"It was so completely unexpected," he said.
Shaw Communications reached out to Matthew on Saturday afternoon, asking him if he had any interest in attending the championship game in Calgary. That's when the Canadian telecommunications company gifted him the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to see his team take home the Grey Cup for the first time since 1990.
"This is absolutely stunning," he said. "It's unbelievable that they would, over something that I said and started doing 18 years ago, that I didn't expect anybody ever to know about, and just anonymously go on my way."
His wife, Darla, will be joining him on the trip to the Grey Cup. They will be watching the future of Matthew's bare calves unfold live from the stands at McMahon Stadium.
Matthew said he is still deciding which shorts he will sport at the championship game.
"All [viewers] need to look out for is a pair of knobby knees and some fairly white legs," he said.
The hardest thing about not wearing pants is shoveling the driveway, according to Matthew.
Regardless of what he wears on Sunday, he will probably stand out like a sore thumb. Environment Canada is forecasting just 1 C under partly cloudy skies for kickoff at 5 p.m. local time. The temperature is expected to hover around zero degrees during the game.
All about the fans
A spokesperson from Shaw said the fans are what the big game is meant for.
"It's such an inspiring story, and it's exactly what the Grey Cup is all about," Chethan Lakshman, the company's vice president of external affairs, said.
"It's all about making it about the fans and what better way to give him a chance to celebrate the victory by immediately putting his pants on," Lakshman said.
Lakshman has been hearing all about the Winnipeg super fan since the story about him — featuring his wife — went viral.
"People have been talking about it all week in Calgary, and how much Canadians love this game," Lakshman said. "The Grey Cup is a celebration about how much people love this country, it doesn't matter if your team's in the game or not."
Darla said she couldn't care less if her husband put pants on ever again, but she is really excited to go to the final.
"I can't believe we're going to the Grey Cup. It's just amazing," she said.
Her husband's story has garnered the attention of national and international outlets, including the Washington Post.
All [viewers] need to look out for is a pair of knobby knees and some fairly white legs.- Chris Matthew, Bomber fan
She wondered why the spotlight isn't on other — questionably smarter — superfans.
"There's some guy that has been going to Grey Cup for 26 years. And I thought he deserves this attention more than my idiot husband," she said.
But Matthew isn't the only hometown fan going to the finals. The Bombers are flying out Winnipeg-famous Dancing Gabe, a long-time hometown sports fan who shows off his best dance moves in front of thousands of fans at local sports games.
Darla said she hopes things will get back to normal in another week, although she personally doesn't care if her husband ever puts his pants back on, judging by what he intends on wearing.
"The shorts are better," she said
With files from Ahmar Khan and Sarah Petz