In 2001, Winnipeg resident and long-suffering Blue Bombers fan Chris Matthew made a pledge. He put it out into the universe that he — still wearing shorts in November of that year — would only switch to pants after his beloved Bombers clinched the Grey Cup.
Little did he know his trouser-less lower extremities would be exposed 24/7, 365 days a year, for nearly two full decades.
The Bombers, after all, were heavy favourites heading into that 2001 championship clash against a middling Calgary Stampeders squad, but ended up losing that game and, in the process, cost Matthew his basic right to wear pants for the next 18-plus Manitoba winters.
"[The Blue Bombers] were 14-4, and they were playing 8-10 Calgary. I thought it was a no-brainer. Apparently I'm the no-brainer," Matthew said in a 2018 interview with the CBC.
Now the Blue Bombers have a chance to do right by their insanely dedicated fans — two wins away from ending Matthew’s pant-less reign after advancing to the West Division final against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Will this be the end of Matthew's 18-year-long pledge? The guy surely hopes so, but he’s learned tough lessons over the years and knows not to get his hopes up. He’s so close, yet so far away.
Matthew said the Bombers — who last won the Grey Cup in 1990 — have let him down too many times in the past for him to dust off the ol’ jeans and khakis just yet.
But beams of optimism, though thin, remain.
"If they play as well as they did [in the Division semifinals], they could beat anybody," he said.
It wouldn’t be fair to end this piece without paying homage to this dude’s commitment to his random, tongue-in-cheek pledge he made nearly 20 years ago. The only place Matthew has worn or will wear pants since the Bombers lost that fateful game in 2001 is to a funeral.
But even then, loopholes linger.
“If they know about the shorts, I'll still wear shorts to a funeral,” he said.
Chris’s wife Darla, who has to be an absolute gem to put up with all of this for so long, says she's way past the point of even caring anymore.
"I don't care. He likes it, and I know that win or lose, he likes the shorts. And he complains, but I think he loves the attention.
"We have been walking down the street when it's cold out. and I have a fur coat, and he's in shorts, and people stare. And I just assure them, yes, he's an idiot.”
No franchise in sports deserves to see their drought end more than the Matthew’s.
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