Family impacted decision to sign with Ottawa
Henry Burris wanted to finish what he started in Steeltown, but the Hamilton Tiger-Cats had other ideas.
© Nathan Liewicki
From left to right, Ultimate Fan Zone co-owners Brody Schoffer and Billy Ravneck pose for a picture with Ottawa REDBLACKS quarterback Henry Burris and Ultimate Fan Zone employee Stephen Simon following an autograph session Saturday. Burris was on hand at the Optimist All-Stars Night later that evening.
“Kent (Austin) wants to get his guys in there and go younger with someone he can mold into somebody more like him,” Burris told the Times-Herald following an autograph session at Ultimate Fan Zone Saturday afternoon.
“I don't make those decisions and all I can do is adjust to the decision that's made.”
Despite being released shortly after the Tiger-Cats signed Zack Collaros to replace him. Burris took the move in stride and is beyond amped up to don an Ottawa REDBLACKS jersey this summer.
Burris said the REDBLACKS and Winnipeg Blue Bombers were the teams who pitched the strongest offers to the 38-year-old quarterback.
“Of course everybody had me pegged – no pun intended – going to Winnipeg, but we really didn't know what was going on until the release happened,” he said.
With the prospect of playing in Ottawa a possibility, Burris called his wife’s grandmother in Springfield, Mass. He told her that there was a chance that he could be playing football five-and-a-half to six hours from her and other family members.
“She went crazy on the phone, like 'oh my gosh. We could come watch every game and we could see you guys even more,’” Burris said. “Just to have family close that can come tailgate and spend time with us on a daily basis, to me that was the icing on the cake.”
In his 17-year career he’s never had the chance to regularly play so close to family members, so he’s definitely looking forward to it.
According to Burris, there is a lot still left in his tank.
He envisions playing in Ottawa for two or three years before hanging up the pads.
“I still have that fire burning,” he said. “Of course, Hamilton provided a few more logs for the fire, but I'm looking forward to it because you always have different challenges and you love different styles of motivation. And I'm still motivated to go out there and play and do what I can to help my team be successful.”
Extra motivation from a Canadian Football League-crazed fan base like Ottawa will only fuel the effort and hard work Burris will put into winning a third Grey Cup ring.
“We had over 10,000 people at an autograph signing just over three weekends ago in Ottawa,” Burris said. “That just shows you how excited the fans are in that city that football is back.”
Burris was also in Moose Jaw for the first Optimist All-Stars Night on Saturday. For that story click here.
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks