December 13, 2011
Burris' options change with Ray trade
By ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency
CALGARY - The sixth sense that has allowed Henry Burris to see everything around him and brace before impact sure let him down Monday.
Burris, like the rest of the Canadian football world, was rocked by news Edmonton Eskimos mainstay Ricky Ray was traded to the Toronto Argonauts for Steven Jyles.
"I didn't see that coming at all," said the Stampeders quarterback who took to Twitter minutes after the puzzling swap with: 'Guess the blue jersey with the A on it wasn't prepared for me like everyone had concluded!'
"I never thought they would get rid of Ricky -- he'd been their franchise player the last decade. But then again, as someone recently told me, any quarterback who has ever achieved anything in this league has played for more than one team."
Like most blindsidings, this one will leave a mark on Burris, too, as perhaps nobody is more susceptible to the ripple effect than the 36-year-old pivot who seemed destined to be reunited with former Stamps boss Jim Barker in Hogtown. Clearly the odd man out in Calgary, where John Hufnagel has decided Drew Tate is his starter, it's obvious Burris won't be the league's first $400,000 backup.
"I guess it takes one team off the board," said Burris of his list of possible destinations after the Ray trade to the Argos.
Ah, but there's the rub. The reality is that it didn't take away a possible destination at all.
In fact, it only shifted things, serving only to thicken the plot as Burris' football fate is decided this winter.
Fact is, the unfathomable became possible Monday when the Jyles acquisition simply (italics)added(close italics) Edmonton to the list of possible destinations for Burris.
"Who knows what (Eskimos GM) Eric (Tillman) has set up?" said Burris, who essentially lost his mojo and his starting gig in Calgary two-thirds of the way through a CFL season in which he was league's defending most outstanding player.
"Does he start Jyles or is he going to bring someone else in? I've known Eric over the years -- we respect one another, and he's had a great track record wherever he's been."
Under contract for one more season at the league's highest salary (albeit not guaranteed), Burris is anxiously waiting for Stamps to trade or release him so he can pursue a starting gig elsewhere.
In the meantime, the man destined for a post-career broadcasting job has to watch what he says.
After all, as fraudulent as the situation is, he is still with the Stampeders. For now.
The only two other logical destinations now that the chairs have been shuffled are Hamilton and Winnipeg.
The Tiger-Cats need to find a head coach before they can decide the fate of erratic current starter Kevin Glenn, and the Blue Bombers are searching for an offensive coordinator to help them determine whether Buck (the Big Bruise) Pierce is dependable enough.
"I'm just sitting back, waiting to see what the Stamps do," said Burris of a cruel yet understandable fate that will be determined in some way by Feb. 1 at the latest.
"It's something I have to think about -- who are the possible suitors? I don't know what the future holds."
All he knows is he still feels he can be a productive starter and leader for at least another couple years -- a feeling no longer shared by the Stamps at any price.
That leads to the big question: Can a man who has worn Red & White for almost as many years as Santa see himself wearing Green & Gold?
"Everyone talks about the big rivalry between the two cities, but for me, it's different -- my big rival is Saskatchewan," said the former Roughriders pivot.
"It would be odd playing in Edmonton. Yeah, it would be odd. But you have to go where the job situation is. I have a couple years remaining (in my CFL career), and I have to go where I can enjoy it."
That may not be his decision, which may be the only thing that got clearer Monday for Burris.
Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.