Duo going long!

Stampeders offensive lineman Jay McNeil, left, and quarterback Henry Burris inked contract...

Stampeders offensive lineman Jay McNeil, left, and quarterback Henry Burris inked contract extensions with the CFL club yesterday. (Calgary Sun/Darren Makowichuk)

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

The Calgary Stampeders have handed Hank the ball for the long haul.

The team's decision yesterday to lock up Henry Burris, its undisputed No. 1 quarterback, through 2009 makes that abundantly clear. In the process, the Stampeders also slide the presumably front-loaded contract under the CFL's new "salary management system." Although the cap is already in place, violators won't be flagged for penalties until 2007.

Burris, who turns 31 next month, is expected to not only lead the team to its first Grey Cup since 2001 but continue spurring a serious challenge for the CFL title for the remainder of this decade.

A new parent, Burris has started thinking about long-term security now that month-old son Armand Burris is just 18 years away from heading off to college.

"My wife (Nicole) and I were fine with moving around together when we went through that short tenure in Chicago then Saskatchewan and then here," Burris said after yesterday's press conference.

"But the thing is you try to find a place where you enjoy playing, you enjoy the people you work with and step onto the field with. Here, everything was perfect. My wife voiced her opinion and definitely wanted to be here and I know I did.

"So once the little man was born, it was just a blessing we could set up shop here, have that stability and want to be here a long time."

The Stampeders also announced the contract extension of non-import guard Jay McNeil, 35, through 2008.

Burris initially signed with the Stampeders as a free agent in February of 2005 after two seasons in Regina.

He sparked the franchise's revival from a sad-sack squad that had missed the playoffs three consecutive seasons. Under Burris's guidance, the club finished second in the CFL West in 2005 with a 11-7 record to earn home-field advantage, yet lost the division semifinal to Edmonton 33-26.

The Burris family is also planning to sell their Bridgeland condominium and are looking to buy a home in Tuscany.

"An apartment gets kind of small, especially with a new addition," Burris said.

"We'll need to have room to throw the football around somewhere."

Also keeping Burris in Red and White is the prospect of fielding a Cup contender in Calgary for the foreseeable future. The team was almost completely rebuilt prior to last season's remarkable turnaround.

McNeil will be presented the team's President's Ring award at a luncheon today.

"I get asked more and more every day when I'm going to retire," McNeil said yesterday.

"I sat down and talked with (president Ted Hellard) and we talked about a possible three more years. The way last year went, I just had so much fun playing football."


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