Henry Burris, Ottawa’s Football Hero

Henry Burris, Ottawa’s Football Hero

When Ottawa thinks of football, their first thoughts are generally on Henry Burris. In 2014 Ottawa unveiled their third CFL team to the Country after a long history riddled with both success and loss. The Ottawa Redblacks were the football future for Ottawa, and at the heart of the team was starting quarterback Henry Burris.

Burris spent the majority of his career bouncing around the CFL while spending two seasons in the NFL and even spent some time playing in Europe for Berlin’s Thunder. Although Burris played a full football career, it wasn’t without it’s challenges.

The Ottawa Redblacks, being the newest team in the CFL, had an interesting first three years and Burris was front and centre for most of it. The inaugural year for the team turned out to be a bit disappointing with the Redblacks placing last in the league with a 2-16 record for the year. With some change ups and improvements to the roster, Ottawa was able to make it to the Grey Cup Finals in 2015, however the game was ultimately won by the Edmonton Eskimos with a score of 26-20. Not bad for a team who came in last place the previous year! Burris played as the only quarterback for the Redblacks for all 18 games and shattered some personal career and some league statistics during this season. He was also awarded the Most Outstanding Player award following the 2015 Grey Cup.

Announcing his retirement on January 24 2017, Burris made sure that he went out on top. The third year of the Ottawa Redblacks proved to be full of emotion and excitement. Burris suffered an injury to his pinky finger on his throwing hand during a game in Edmonton in late June 2016. This injury unfortunately landed him on the injured list for six long games. In a season of only 18 games, six is a huge amount to watch from the sidelines. In Burris’ absence, previous Toronto Argonauts QB Trevor Harris stepped in and helped bring the team to some victories. Burris and Harris were both integral parts of the Ottawa team that ultimately made it to the Grey Cup finals for the second year in a row. Burris didn’t always get the start even after he fully recovered from his pinky injury, but being a professional he always knew that the coaches would do what was best for the team. Going into the Grey Cup finals Burris received the start and was the driving force behind the Redblacks. He started the game off on the wrong foot so to speak and suffered a slight knee injury during the warm up before the game, but as any true athlete, he played through the pain and lead his team to their first Grey Cup victory! In a game ending with an overtime win of 39-33, Burris was awarded the Most Valuable Player award in addition to the Grey Cup for his team.Two days following the Grey Cup win, the Ottawa Redblacks went through the streets of Ottawa in a parade that drew crowds of over 40,000 to welcome home their champions. Needless to say, Burris retired on top with an achievement record that most football players can only hope to achieve.

Burris didn’t always get the start even after he fully recovered from his pinky injury, but being a professional he always knew that the coaches would do what was best for the team. Going into the Grey Cup finals Burris received the start and was the driving force behind the Redblacks. He started the game off on the wrong foot so to speak and suffered a slight knee injury during the warm up before the game, but as any true athlete, he played through the pain and lead his team to their first Grey Cup victory! In a game ending with an overtime win of 39-33, Burris was awarded the Most Valuable Player award in addition to the Grey Cup for his team.Two days following the Grey Cup win, the Ottawa Redblacks went through the streets of Ottawa in a parade that drew crowds of over 40,000 to welcome home their champions. Needless to say, Burris retired on top with an achievement record that most football players can only hope to achieve.

This is not the first Grey Cup Burris has to his name. He also has 1998 and 2008 wins under his belt. This seasoned QB will be missed not only in Ottawa but in the entire football community. With him having played in Calgary, Saskatchewan, Hamilton and Ottawa over his CFL career, he certainly is a Canadian football hero and is someone future generations can strive to become.

But where will he go from here? At 41 you may be “old” in the sporting world, but there is still a lot of life left in Henry Burris. There has been speculation that he will take a position in the media, having done stints on Ottawa’s morning news shows before. He has also indicated that he plans to become a committed and full-time hockey dad. No doubt his commitments to his career have kept him apart from different family experiences over the years, but the young retiree now has many years to make up for that. We may not see him on a field anytime soon, but this is certainly not the last we will see of Henry Burris.

Title image editorial credit: Paul McKinnon / Shutterstock, Inc.

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Author

Faith Murray is a stay-at-home Mom and former law clerk from Ottawa, ON. Her passions include country music and beating her husband at Scrabble.

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