Thank you, Henry Burris
REDBLACKS QB Henry Burris announces retirement after 17 seasons
Henry Burris was all smiles during his retirement press conference Tuesday at TD Place in the Glebe.
That’s because the former Ottawa REDBLACKS quarterback, who led the team to its first-ever Grey Cup last year, and Ottawa’s first CFL championships in 40 years, won’t be leaving the city behind. He’s making Ottawa his permanent home.
“This is a special day, not only for my family, not only for this organization, but for the city of Ottawa,” said Burris to a small crowd of fans, reporters and REDBLACKS staff at TD Place Tuesday. “I’m here to announce that I am stepping away from the game of football, but for me, this is only the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.”
Burris showed up in Ottawa during the REDBLACKS inaugural season in 2014 and it didn’t take long to turn the new franchise into a championship team.
After mounting just two wins in 2014, Burris and company bounced back the following year, winning the East Division en route to the franchise’s first Grey Cup appearance against the Edmonton Eskimos. Burris was named the league’s Most Outstanding Player that year and broke the CFL record for both most pass completions in one season, as well as most completions in a single game. But the REDBLACKS fell 26-20 to the Eskimos to lose the Grey Cup.
It didn’t take long for fans to buy in, as the team boasted an impressive 11-straight sellouts at TD Place. Game days became a big buzz in the Glebe, with the area bustling with football fans – both new and old that had been wooed by Burris’ on-field performance and his off-field charm.
2016 proved to be an up and down season, and despite putting up a sub-500 record at 8-9-1, the REDBLACKS still managed earn a second-consecutive Grey Cup berth – a date vs. the powerhouse Calgary Stampeders in Toronto.
This time, the REDBLACKS made good on their second trip to the CFL final, with Burris throwing 461 passing yards, three touchdown passes and another two that he ran in himself to win the 2016 Grey Cup in a thrilling 39-33 overtime victory. He was named the 2016 Grey Cup MVP – a fitting end to Burris’ impressive 17-year career that saw three Grey Cups, two Grey Cup MVP honours and two Most Outstanding Player awards. Burris had finally gotten what he came here for.
“We all came to start new roots here in such a great city and the one thing we promised our faithful here was that we were here to win a Grey Cup,” he added during his press conference, praising fans for showing up in sellout numbers nearly every game, even in 2014 when the team only put up two wins.
“And the fact that we delivered in such a short period of time in only three years is something that’s just unheard of.”
When Burris and the REDBLACKS brought the Grey Cup back to Ottawa, a whopping 40,000 people showed up to thank the quarterback for ending the 40-year draught. Bank Street in the Glebe was a massive party, lined with school kids, fans, media, and politicians – all of them trying to get a glimpse of that shiny trophy bobbing through the Glebe. Burris was riding the back of a pickup truck with his family, high fiving and taking selfies with fans as he cruised towards TD Place.
“I’m still calling Ottawa home,” he said.
“When we came here, the city embraced my family and I and the organization here, the community and the people here are just first class in every angle and every area of this given city. There has never been a city I could call home and feel more comfortable in saying that.”
It’s clear he’s welcome in Ottawa. Mayor Jim Watson announced Wednesday that Burris would be honoured with a Key to the City for his accomplishments and contributions to Ottawa.
Although Burris is still waiting on his Canadian citizenship, that hasn’t stopped his family from soaking up Canadian culture, as Burris will now be found in “a hockey rink in a barn” somewhere where his young boys are picking up hockey. Burris says he is now poised to become the best ice skater in his family.
Congratulations Hank on your amazing accomplishment, and we can’t thank you enough for bringing so much life to the Glebe, and for making football relevant again in the nation’s capital.
We will see you on the canal!