Everybody is hammerin’ Hank.
In the aftermath of Sunday’s season-ending CFL playoff loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Stamps star Henry Burris has become a lightning-rod for criticism on opinion websites and local call-in shows.
Suddenly, some furious fans figure the starting quarterback is to blame for yet another early playoff exit — their fourth in five seasons.
“People are going to say what they want to say,” Burris said with a shrug during Monday’s garbage-bag day at McMahon Stadium. “Us in the locker-room, we know the things that happened. I know I could’ve made some plays here and there, but there were also some plays other guys know they could’ve made.
“We share responsibility.
I know I take a lot of the blame because I hold the ball every play, but again, the quarterback is not the only guy out there.”
Burris was neither brilliant nor brutal in Sunday’s 20-16 loss in the West final at McMahon.
He tossed only one interception, but that second-quarter swipe by Riders safety James Patrick set up Saskatchewan’s second touchdown and gave the out-of-towners their first lead of the game.
Burris fumbled late in the third quarter and managed to recover the loose ball, but he was sacked on the next play, as the Stamps stumbled out of field-goal range and settled for a punt single.
With their Grey Cup hopes hanging in the balance, the Stamps’ dangerous attack went ice-cold, managing just five points and six first downs in the second half.
As the Stamps said their goodbyes Monday morning, Burris’ offensive buddies rallied around their under-fire field general.
“It’s sad for me to hear anybody blame this loss on him,” said Stamps centre Rob Lazeo.
“The quarterback — he’s the hero when you win and the dog when you lose, and I always think that’s unfair,” added Stamps fullback Rob Cote. “Henry knows that’s the way it is, and he’ll deal with it. But you, for sure, can’t pin this on him.”
Receiver Ken-Yon Rambo also weighed in, saying: “It’s a team game — a team sport — and we didn’t do it as a team. It wasn’t Henry’s fault.”
Try telling that to a fan base that’s sick of losing to the Riders in the post-season.
On Sunday’s post-game call-in shows, some Stamps supporters suggested it was time to saddle up a new starter, while others echoed those sentiments on blogs and fan boards.
It’s worth noting they likely represent a vocal minority, and that tune will surely change if Burris is named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player at Thursday’s awards banquet in Edmonton.
“We didn’t look like the team from the regular season,” Burris said. “In order to win in the playoffs, you’ve got to be the same team that you’re known to be but take it to the next level with energy and emotion. We didn’t do a good job of doing that in the second half, as far as maintaining our drives. We’re an offence that usually gets better as the game goes on, but we didn’t do that.”
And everybody should shoulder the blame for that.