MVP season sacked

Stampeders QB Henry Burris (left) stands with coach Tom Higgins at a press conference to discuss...

Stampeders QB Henry Burris (left) stands with coach Tom Higgins at a press conference to discuss the condition of Burris' injury. (Sun Media/Stuart Dryden)

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

Henry Burris tried to put on a brave face, as did the organization.

But the reality is quarterback Burris is likely done for the season.

You could hear it in his voice. You could see it in his eyes.

The official party line is his dislocated non-throwing shoulder won't require surgery, leaving him on the sidelines for at least two weeks and hopefully back in four or five.

The West and East semifinals are less than seven weeks from now, and the truth is given the amount of pain he's been in since Friday, he knows in his heart his dream season is probably over.

"Last night was the first night I didn't have to take pain killers for sleeping," he said.

Asked if there was any doubt he'd come back this year, the perpetually upbeat Burris balked.

"I really can't say -- I'm not a doctor," said a somber Burris, whose gut is clearly telling him a season that saw him rounding into MVP form is almost certainly history. "I'm going to work my tail off and make it hard on them to tell me I can't (come back)."

But he later added, "I'm not going to do anything stupid to put me back."

In other words, he isn't going to risk long-term damage just because his team needs a win in the final week or two, which it likely will.

His sling doesn't come off for at least two weeks, and then it's up to how fast his body heals, as he knows one hit could easily send him to the operating table if he comes back too early.

"God willing, he is going to play before the season is out," said head coach Tom Higgins in front of the largest gathering of media-types the club has seen in years.

"There is no prescription for a doctor to say when he'll be back. By then, it will be said we have two quarterbacks that can lead this team."

Pointing out his club has not won outside of Alberta yet this season, Higgins' crew will be hard-pressed to end that sorry streak anytime soon, as his recently-signed third-string pivot, Ben Sankey, has more CFL experience than the team's first or second stringer.

Management will have to answer for that, assuming 32-year-old NFL flop Akili Smith isn't able to successfully steer the club through the CFL's toughest schedule.

However, yesterday club officials seemed more intent to grouse about their fate in Hamilton thanks to the non-call on what they deemed a late hit on Burris. Insisting it cost them their quarterback, the game and an all-but-guaranteed playoff spot, president Ted Hellard respectfully criticized the league's decision to let the hit -- and other such QB hits -- go unpunished. They are comments for which Hellard and the team were fined $10,000.

But it's not as if a suspension or an apology would help.

"Actually, I haven't seen it - I blame (painkillers) for that," said Burris of the hit, trying to add levity. "I pretty much know what happened when I got hit. When someone landed on me, I felt it pop out then."

The sad thing about it all is after all the second-guessing he faced, Burris was finally proving to be the elite quarterback he was signed to be.

"Before the game, I was talking to the guys about how it's been the most enjoyable season I've had so far," said Burris quietly. "And I thanked the guys for the journey."

A journey that has likely ended for a guy who deserved better.


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