Burris proud of Obama

Stamps QB Henry Burris and his son Armand show where the President's ring that Burris was awarded...

Stamps QB Henry Burris and his son Armand show where the President's ring that Burris was awarded will go when he gets it in May. (Sun Media/Stuart Dryden)

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

A few years ago, Henry Burris was in a similar spot to where Barack Obama is today.

When Burris signed up as the Calgary Stampeders starting quarterback in 2005, it was a charismatic person taking over a leadership role attempting to turn around a struggling system under immense scrutiny.

However, that isn't the most important distinction between the two.

They also happen to be black men in positions formerly reserved for white guys.

So the timing isn't lost on Henry Burris.

On a day when Burris was given the Presidents' Ring for on and off the field excellence, his home country was swearing in new President Barack Obama.

"He's in the pocket ,right now," Burris said with a joyous laugh. "He has all types of stunts and blitzes coming at him.

"The great thing about Barack, when I look at his temperament, he is a humble guy. He's not bragging or boasting about what he's achieved, being the first black president.

"He's focused on the goals and tasks at hand and turning things around. He did that his entire campaign. He's just focused on righting the wrongs."

Just a couple of decades ago, it was still rare for a black man to be the quarterback of a football team.

But it has become the norm in the CFL and in the past few years, the likes of Burris, Kerry Joseph, Damon Allen and Marcus Crandell all leading their teams to Grey Cup victories.

It has become so common those players are no longer referred to as black quarterbacks, just quarterbacks.

"I remember last year in Toronto, the two most outstanding players were both African-American quarterbacks," Burris said about Joseph and Kevin Glenn.

"Some people from back home were watching and said 'Wow, nobody mentioned two African-Americans were up for the most outstanding player award.' That's the way it is up here. It shows the difference in lifestyle. There's a different mentality, but hopefully (Obama) changes things."

Burris watched as much of the inauguration coverage as he possibly could yesterday and it reminded him of the feeling he had seeing the Million Man March in college.

It excites the Spiro, Okla., native to see Obama was elected based on what he could do instead of what he looks like.

"Despite what his name is, what his background is, or what the colour of his skin is, people aren't judging him on that," Burris said.

"He is the guy who has all the credentials for the job. He is a guy who is made to be president. From the last guy to this guy, just listening to him speak, I can tell great things are going to happen.

"This is an exciting day. I still think all the pressure they are putting on him is overwhelming, but he's hired a great cabinet.

"Right now, for the face of not only America but this entire planet, it's time for a change in direction. We're tired of the same old, same old."

When Burris came back to lead the Stamps, the Flames captain was and still is Jarome Iginla, who was the first black man to be nominated for the Hart Trophy.

For the past four years, the two most recognizable sports figures in Calgary are both black, but that hardly makes a ripple in their day-to-day lives.

"Ever since I've been in Canada, I didn't feel the same racial conflict as I did as a kid," Burris explained.

"People in the U.S. put themselves above others, not because of what they do but because of their skin. You see that so much because they say your ancestors were here before yours. I don't care about that stuff.

"It's good to see some brothers are able to do great things.

"You see it across this country. It's refreshing."


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