Quarterback sneak

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

To no one's surprise, Ron Rooke has grabbed the league's attention by going public with his club's plans to pursue quarterback Henry Burris this winter.

But guess who else's attention he got.

Mr. Burris.

While the league will undoubtedly slap Rooke's wrist for tampering with a player who is under contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders until Feb. 15, it was actually a savvy move by the Stamps prez.

Make no mistake, he made the comments with one main thing in mind -- season tickets.

Early-bird renewal deadlines are quickly approaching and what better way to spark more interest in this quarterback-starved city than by suggesting one of the league's most exciting pivots soon may be returning to Calgary?

Perhaps more importantly, Rooke's comments have, by now, found their way to Burris.

Regardless of whether the Roughriders have already tabled an offer for the league's hottest second-half quarterback, he now knows his former employer will go "very hard" after him. Unless the Roughriders trade Nealon Greene, promise him the starting gig or come up with big money, Burris is secure in the knowledge he can count on a sizeable offer from the Red & White if he waits three months to become a free agent.

Without knowing that, the intensely loyal Burris might have signed an inferior deal to stay in green.

Not now.

Burris has long suggested he'd love to return to Calgary where he began his pro career in 1997 and spent three years as a backup before testing the NFL.

Just two years ago, when he returned to Canada, he put in a pitch to return, only to be rejected by owner Michael Feterik who suggested Burris would be the team's fourth-stringer.

His relationship with Rooke is a solid one as Rooke's former job as the team's PR director had him working closely with Burris, who has such an impeccable character he attended every function asked of him.

Make no mistake, the possibility of Burris coming here is very real, especially now since Rooke has voiced his intentions.

How the Stamps could afford to spend a half-million dollars of their budget on both Burris and Khari Jones is anyone's guess but keep in mind CFL contracts aren't guaranteed.

Just as the Bombers were poised to release Jones last season, the Stamps could dump the 33-year-old and his $350,000 contract at any time, at no cost. Speculation continues to swirl Jones' shoulder may still be causing him some problems, raising concern over whether he's capable of continuing his career or, at the very least, able to get through an 18-game schedule.

Owner Michael Feterik backed up Rooke yesterday but was cautious in his comments.

"We're going to go hard after a good quarterback but I'm not going to mention any names," said Feterik. "It's so hard for a quarterback to play the whole season and an example of that is Anthony Calvillo in Montreal -- he gets hurt in the last game and the whole season goes down the drain. We can't take chances.

"That's the whole game up here -- you need a quarterback."

If indeed the 29-year-old quarterback ends up returning to Cowtown, Rooke can take some of the credit.

In the meantime, the league will surely debit him first.


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