It’s a cliche.
Coming from a kinda-sorta connoisseur like Henry Burris, it’s also a major compliment.
Asked earlier this week about Montreal Alouettes ace Anthony Calvillo, the Calgary Stampeders signal-caller admitted his quarterbacking counterpart seems to be “aging like fine wine.”
“You only see him getting better and getting sharper as years go on,” Burris said. “He’s on top of his game, big-time.”
Calvillo, 38, isn’t the only CFL quarterback seemingly sipping from the fountain of youth.
Although he had perhaps his worst performance in four seasons in last week’s lopsided loss to the B.C. Lions, the 35-year-old Burris is also winning his foot-race with Father Time.
“Henry has been doing an amazing job over his career — he’s been very consistent,” Calvillo said. “You don’t play over 10 years
for no particular reason. It means a lot of teams have a lot of confidence in you, and then it’s up to you to stay at that level, and I think Henry has been able to do that for many years.”
If you’re looking for pre-game bulletin board material, the grizzled gunslingers are apparently not your guys.
Their first-place football teams — both owners of 9-3 records — meet in Friday’s heavyweight fight at McMahon Stadium (7 p.m., TSN, QR77). It’s also a battle of two of the top field-generals in the history of the three-down football ranks.
Calvillo ranks second on the CFL’s all-time passing list with 66,598 aerial yards and sits second with 376 touchdown strikes.
Burris also owns a spot among the all-time greats, as he prepares to climb into ninth spot — he needs 88 yards to surpass Kent Austin’s total of 36,030 passing yards — on the CFL’s career list. Burris also ranks ninth with 223 touchdown tosses.
Thing is they’re not letting the young guns gain any ground.
Despite missing two outings with a rib injury, Calvillo has already racked up 3,276 passing yards and 22 majors this season.
Burris currently leads the league with two dozen touchdown passes in 2010 and has 3,340 passing yards so far on his annual stats sheet.
Although Calvillo joked Thursday his memory isn’t as sharp as it once was, he also admitted that, “As you get older, I tend to think you get a bit smarter.”
“Really, for quarterbacks, you have to to realize that you may not have that same physical ability, but you have to use (the experience) to your advantage,” Burris added. “I know that’s what I’m trying to do, and I’m trying to make myself better at doing that.
“I feel like I see things a lot better than I used to. Here and there, you’re still going to make some mistakes, but I feel I see things a lot easier now. Hopefully, that plays to my advantage.”
The way Calvillo and Burris are taking advantage of opposing defences, fans and pundits are wondering just how long the elder statesmen will stick around.
Now in his 17th season in the league and fresh off back-to-back Most Outstanding Player nods, Calvillo hasn’t hinted at retirement.
With 11 CFL campaigns and a two-year NFL stint under his cleats, Burris said a few weeks ago he wouldn’t be on the field at age 40, meaning he’s got a maximum of three or four seasons on his agenda.
That likely won’t be enough time to match some of Calvillo’s career stats.
Except one, perhaps.
“The one thing I’m focused on is trying to beat him in championships,” Burris said. “He has two, and I’m one behind him right now, even though I have one riding on the pine (as a third-stringer in 1998). I’m hopefully trying to catch him this year or sometime soon. He’s a great competitor, and to be able to keep up with him, as far as winning championships, that would definitely be a dream come true.
“To me, the only measuring stick once you leave this game is championships. Yards are good, but they’re not everything, because it’s all about helping your team win.”