CALGARY - Henry Burris wasn’t promising a picture-perfect golf swing.
Just the fact he was willing — and able — to dust off his clubs for the Calgary Stampeders’ annual golf tournament earlier this week, though, is a positive sign for supporters of the CFL squad.
“It’s not going to help my golf game any, but it feels great to be able to come out here,” Burris said before teeing off in Monday’s fundraising event at the Calgary Elks Lodge & Golf Club. “It’s been a while. It’s been since 2008, I think, since the last time
I played in this tournament, so it’s good to be able to get back out here and participate in it.
“And it also just shows that even through the tough parts of early in the season, building rapport with the offensive line and with our young receivers, here I am still healthy. So that’s a very good thing for our future.”
Saturday’s 38-31 victory over the Montreal Alouettes marked the return of middle linebacker Juwan Simpson and fullback Rob Cote to the Stamps’ lineup, while a couple of other regulars — receiver Arjei Franklin and offensive lineman Edwin Harrison — are still on the mend.
Heading into Monday’s Labour Day Classic against the arch-rival Edmonton Eskimos, Burris is feeling like a million bucks.
He hasn’t missed a game since October 2007 but has skipped the Stamps’ golf tournament for the past two summers due to some aches and pains.
Not this time.
“That’s great to hear and it shows in his play. He’s playing great. He looks fresh out there,” said Stamps centre Tim O’Neill.
“He just looks fresh and fast, and it’s a pleasure to block for him because he cleans up a lot of stuff for you. When you see him running with the ball and avoiding sacks and looking strong out there, that’s really good to see.”
Burris seems to look a bit stronger every time he hits the field.
In a 45-35 road win in Regina just before the bye week, Smilin’ Hank shredded the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ defence for 31 first-half points.
Despite needing a few drives to shake off the rust, Burris tossed three touchdown passes and scrambled into the endzone for the game-winning score against the Alouettes. After Calgary’s fourth consecutive victory, Stamps head coach John Hufnagel told reporters his quarterback was “the only reason we were in the game in the first half,” even though the offensive fireworks didn’t start until after the break.
Burris currently ranks second in the CFL with 2,462 passing yards — just two yards behind Alouettes star Anthony Calvillo — and third with 13 touchdown strikes so far.
Even better, the 36-year-old signal-caller is feeling fewer bumps and bruises than he has in the past couple of seasons.
And his health isn’t the only thing that reminds him of the Stamps’ most recent Grey Cup campaign.
“We’re dealing with adversity much better than I’ve seen us deal with adversity, probably since 2008,” Burris said. “We have a great team this year. Against Montreal, the guys gave me confidence. I had confidence. You never saw anybody panicking or anything and we came out and had a great second half.
“Once we got things going, we just felt great about it.”