Stampeders in hot water

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's quarterback, at least not publicly.

The CFL is investigating comments made Tuesday by Calgary Stampeders president Ron Rooke the club is "going to go hard after Henry Burris."

Burris is property of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, although the strong-armed pivot qualifies for free agency at midnight on Feb. 15.

"The league is investigating," said Ed Chalupka, CFL VP of football operations.

"We'll conduct an investigation and deal with the situation appropriately.

"Anything we do internally stays internally. That's the way we operate."

Chalupka said he couldn't comment specifically about this case but Rooke's statement appears to contravene CFL bylaws preventing teams from so much as expressing an interest in a player under contract with another club.

"It will be dealt with pretty quickly," Chalupka said.

"Under our bylaws you cannot, either by inference or (directly), contact the property of another team. That's our standard."

Chalupka said he expects the commissioner's office will issue a statement within the next couple of days.

Rooke was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Burris, 29, led the Roughriders to the West Final two weeks ago against the B.C. Lions, only to lose in overtime.

He assumed the Roughies' starting role after No. 1 pivot Nealon Greene broke his leg in Week 1. Burris completed 322 passes for 4,267 yards and 23 touchdowns this season as the Riders advanced to the West Final for the second consecutive year.

Burris spent three years in Calgary as a backup to both Jeff Garcia and Dave Dickenson before signing with the 'Riders as a free agent in 2000. In his first season as a Roughie, Burris passed for an astounding 4,647 yards and 30 TDs before being lured to the NFL by Green Bay.

He returned to the Roughriders in the middle of the 2003 season and reportedly earned about $120,000 in 2004, his option year.

It isn't the first time the Stampeders put themselves into hot water by making public their interest in a player under contract before the free-agent deadline.

General manager Matt Dunigan last January said he was "extremely interested" in Toronto Argos kicker Noel Prefontaine, three weeks before the player was to qualify for free agency. Prefontaine re-signed with the Argos before the deadline.

The league reportedly reprimanded the rookie GM, although Dunigan denied the CFL took action.


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