When Warren Moon shows up at the Henry Burris All-Star Weekend as the guest of honour, one of the kids in line for an autograph will be Burris himself.
If it wasn’t for the former Edmonton Eskimos quarterback, Burris wouldn’t have worn No. 1 for the Calgary Stampeders these past five seasons.
In announcing the lineup for Burris’ fifth annual charity fundraiser for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, which goes May 14 and 15, Burris couldn’t help but marvel at what Moon endured to pave a path for players such as himself.
The reason Moon ended up in Edmonton was because no one in the NFL wanted the Washington product to play quarterback when he came out of college.
Moon paved the way for many young black men who wanted to play the pivotal position by sticking with it in the CFL before getting a chance down south.
“Seeing the trip he took where so many people said he couldn’t do it, he never complained and just went out there and did his job,” said Burris about the CFL and NFL Hall-of-Famer.
“He’s tried to impact others in a positive way because he is thankful to others for helping him.”
Despite being in the CFL since 1996 and in the NFL for a few seasons (2001-03), Burris has never crossed paths with Moon.
During Burris’ first stint with the Stamps ending in 1999, he couldn’t get Moon’s number and wore No. 16, but he took No. 1 when he moved to Saskatchewan the following year. He has wore it since.
“When I knew I was coming to Canada, I said, ‘Hey, that’s where Warren Moon played,’ ” said Burris, who is pumped just to meet Moon.
“This allows me to go up to guy I looked up to in many ways because of what he accomplished as a black quarterback.
“I have a similar lifestyle as he did in being a starting quarterback here in Alberta. I can’t wait to show him this is what I’ve been able to accomplish. This is a true feat for me.”
While Moon had five Grey Cup titles on his resume, Burris has one with the Stamps, but the Oklahoma native has more to go with four years remaining on his contract in Calgary.
If Burris and the Stamps do get back on top in 2010, they are going to do it without a few key pieces on offence.
During this off-season, the team traded Jeremaine Copeland to Toronto for fellow receiver P.K. Sam, lost offensive co-ordinator George Cortez to the Buffalo Bills and lost right guard Dimitri Tsoumpas to the Miami Dolphins.
Those are all hurdles to overcome, but Burris said he has senses a focus with the remaining players to find the 2008 championship form again.
The hunger is back, especially after watching the Saskatchewan Roughriders play in the Grey Cup at McMahon Stadium.
“I see the same fire as 2008,” Burris said. “We have to prove something again. When you are up top, people are trying to get your spot. Now we’re in that position. Saskatchewan had a great team.
“The West will always be tough so we have to be ready to go.”
The Stamps announced the signings of import running back Rafael Little and import receiver Louis Givens. Little, a Kentucky product, spent the 2008 season with the Tennessee Titans, while Givens spent one season at Florida State as a walk-on.