Burris deal good for Argos too

Henry Burris. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)

Henry Burris. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:24 PM ET

Bob O’Billovich recalled on Tuesday afternoon how the Canadian Football League career of one big-time quarterback got a shot in the arm thanks to a trade.

Now, O’Billovich, the general manager of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, hopes the same happens with quarterback Henry Burris, who he acquired from the Calgary Stampeders after days of speculation.

“When Wally (Buono) and I went from Calgary to B.C. (in 2003) we traded Damon Allen (to the Argonauts),” O’Billovich said. “And that really did something for Damon.

“A change of scenery can be good for a player, and we hope that it is the same for Henry with us.”

The Ticats’ landing of Burris, a swap that cost the club quarterback Kevin Glenn and centre Mark Dewit, has the potential to re-shape the landscape in the East Division.

The Argos started the renovation in December when they traded for Ricky Ray from the Edmonton Eskimos. That Burris will try to forget his final season with the Calgary Stampeders when he suits up for the Ticats should further up the ante in the East.

If Ray and Burris play to their talents, a much-needed focus on the teams in southern Ontario would be a boon for the CFL.

“It really should help make for a competitive division,” Argos general manager Jim Barker said. “It’s going to make it a lot more interesting for the fans.

“I have a lot of affinity for Henry, and I know what he can do for a franchise.

“Football fans can’t wait for training camps to start. Ricky Ray and Henry Burris had their battles in the west, and now they have brought them east. Instead of going down Highway 2 (between Edmonton and Calgary), it’s the QEW.”

The rivalry involving the Argos and Ticats hasn’t lacked intensity in recent seasons, even when one or both of the teams was struggling. But now that each team seemingly has put a lid on its quarterback problems, the rivalry should get grittier.

And, let’s face it, any good attention that is given the Argos, no matter what leads to it, is something the Boatmen and the CFL wants badly.

“No question about it, and I think this is really good for the league as a whole,” O’Billovich said. “Our rivalry didn’t need any further fuel for the fire, but this is just going to make it that much more interesting.”

Ray was third in passing yards in the CFL in 2011, throwing for 4,594, and Burris was fifth with 3,687. But where Ray recovered after struggling in 2010, Burris fell out of the starting rotation in Calgary, giving way to Drew Tate as the regular season hit the final three weeks.

What has not happened — yet — in Hamilton could be to Burris’ advantage. The Ticats don’t have a head coach, but one of the leading candidates is Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach George Cortez, with whom Burris had a good relationship in Calgary. If Cortez is hired in Hamilton, he could be just what Burris needs to get his career going in the right direction again.

The Grey Cup MVP in 2008, Burris was the CFL’s most outstanding player in 2010.

Burris is on vacation and was unavailable for comment, but the 36-year-old said in a statement regarding his new employer that “this team has a very bright future and I’m eager to be a part of it.”

If a change of scenery is all that Burris needs, not only will he make the Ticats better, but so too should the Hamilton-Toronto rivalry grow. You can bet that Ray will do everything he can to ensure it from his end.

The league, as O’Billovich said, could be the winner in the end. Let’s hope that’s what transpires.

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/koshtorontosun


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