So sorry, Khari

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:05 PM ET

Ted Hellard admits he was embarrassed. Horrified, actually.

And he wants to apologize.

At the tail end of a week in which Khari Jones sat at home reading about the Stamps' pursuit of Henry Burris, the veteran quarterback was dealt the ultimate slap in the face when free-agent acquisition Jeremaine Copeland said at Thursday's press conference he hoped "that other guy" would be throwing to him.

Jones was standing at the back of the room when the outspoken receiver said it, prompting the 33-year-old to lash out.

Hellard said he felt awful about it.

"Nobody felt worse about it than me," the Stamps owner/president said.

"We all wish that comment didn't come out. But it was just an excited player who didn't plan to say it or mean to be malicious with it. If Khari feels disrespected, he has my personal apology. He's certainly in an awkward position."

Hellard sat down with Jones following the press conference to try smoothing things over.

Shockingly, it was the first time Jones had been told face to face of the club's plans to explore the possibility of replacing Jones with the younger free agent, Burris.

As head of a local ownership group that has pledged first and foremost to return the club to respectability on and off the field, Hellard admitted yesterday the whole scenario might have looked unprofessional.

"It's a little disappointing because we've tried to be as professional as possible," said Hellard of the criticism, which he insists is actually unfounded.

"The bottom line is that if I was looking into a fish bowl from the outside, it would have appeared that way to me. It's an acceptable comment from someone on the outside if you were unaware of the communication that went on."

Despite how it looks, Hellard wants people to know as soon as Burris became a free agent Tuesday night, his club proceeded by the book, informing Jones' agent of plans to pursue Burris.

"Khari has an agent and when it came to communicating with him, the protocol is to deal with the agent, especially when it has to do with money or contractual things," said Hellard, who had Burris in town the last two days.

"People need to understand Henry is also going to Edmonton and Hamilton. We have to see if there's a fit there or not. He's not the first player to take a tour."

Despite the very public pursuit of Burris, which would spell the end of Jones' days in Calgary, Jones showed tremendous class and character by airing his frustrations respectfully. Standing firmly by his credentials as former CFL MVP, he said his desire to stay would only be wiped out by the inking of Burris.

He said he'd rather be released than be a backup who would be asked to take a pay cut from his $350,000 salary.

"He was restrained and every comment he has every right to make," said Hellard of Jones' reaction.

"I believe Khari is without question one of the most professional and straight-up man I've met. We, under no circumstances, consider him to be a second-rate player. We're comfortable we have a first-rate quarterback. But as is prudent, we are exploring possibilities."

And he makes no apologies for that.


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