Stamps to run QB option

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris cleans out his locker one day after another season...

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris cleans out his locker one day after another season ended in disappointment. The pivot may not be back in Calgary next season after he committed five turnovers in Sunday's West semifinal loss to Saskatchewan. (Calgary Sun/Jim Wells)

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:01 PM ET

Ted Hellard wouldn't say it. Nor would Tom Higgins until pressured to take a stand he littered with qualifiers.

"Right now Henry Burris is our number one quarterback until such a time we see a better option," said the Stamps head coach and senior v.p. of football operations yesterday in typically beige fashion.

"Maybe we have to bring in someone to split time with him."

Hardly a ringing endorsement for a 31-year-old quarterback the organization hung its hat on the last two years -- until Sunday, that is.

Rational or not, the hot debate inside and outside the organization following the club's latest playoff choke revolves around whether Burris is the best man to lead the Calgary Stampeders back to glory.

In the wake of his four-interception, one-fumble performance in Sunday's 30-21 West semifinal loss to Saskatchewan, the bulk of Stamps fans say no.

After all, it's not the first time his penchant for pickoffs has abruptly ended the Stamps' season.

The emotion of Sunday's upset has many willing to forget Burris was the star of the 2004 West final, led the league in passing touchdowns, is a popular leader in the room and has athletic ability only one or two CFL pivots can match.

However, detractors need only to point to his league-high 18 interceptions and six picks in his last two West semifinal performances to suggest he may never stop coughing up all over himself, so to speak.

"Who is to say when you give up on someone?" asked Higgins, unsure if he'll even be asked back.

"What's to say the third or fourth year can't be the charm? He's gifted -- we need to be patient at times."

Does this ownership feel it has that sort of time before it starts losing season-ticket holders?

Fact is, perhaps the only quarterback who gives the Stamps a better chance to win -- and might be available -- is Dave Dickenson.

Depending on how the 33-year-old former Stamp finishes the season in B.C., Wally Buono may choose to keep young Buck Pierce over a $400,000, injury-prone Dickenson next year.

If so, Dickenson's first choice via trade (or free agency, if he's released) would be to return to Cowtown where he has a home and wants to finish his career. The Stamps might just be willing to make that deal if Buono's asking price isn't too high.

Otherwise, no other available quarterback comes with the experience, arm and running ability as Burris, who said he's more determined than ever to be a better quarterback by working all winter on his speed.

However, as he told the Sun after the game, team president Hellard refused to confirm Burris will be back for the reminder of his $350,000 annual deal that still has two years and an option remaining.

"I think it's a healthy debate -- it's a natural fire point for people to go to," said Hellard of Burris' fate.

"I also don't think anybody in this room believes quarterbacking is the sole reason we lost."

While that may be true, fans saw Burris' five turnovers, then saw red.

Make that green.

"I don't think judging it on one game is fair," said backup QB Danny McManus.

"Over the 18 games, I thought he had a great year. He put the team in a position to win a lot of games ... Believe me, around the league people definitely want his services if they ever come available."

They won't anytime soon.

It's too bad no one has the guts to say it yet.


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