Wednesday, November 25, 2015
BURRIS LOOKING FOR REDEMPTION
The 40-year-old Ottawa Redblacks quarterback comes to the CFL championship game having thrown for 361 touchdowns and more than 60,000 yards in his 16 years in the league. He was MVP of the 2008 Grey Cup, when he led Calgary past Montreal. And on Thursday, he can collect his second Most Outstanding Player Award in the leadup to Sunday's showdown with the Edmonton Eskimos.
But his drive for success is partially fuelled by his doubters after being released by both Calgary and Hamilton in recent years.
"It is very personal to me,'' he told reporters Wednesday after a brisk morning workout at Investors Group Field. "So many people always say you can let it go, let it go. But I think that's what motivates some of the best athletes ever.
"You have to play with a chip on your shoulder. When people say certain things that in your heart matter to you as an athlete. When they say certain things to doubt you.''
Burris acknowledges there will always be naysayers. But to him it matters when it comes from people "that matter to you, that played a role in your life.''
As tough as nails on the field, the charismatic Burris bruises easily off it. He can't understand why he is "Good Hank, Bad Hank'' to some and a possible Hall of Famer to others.
And Burris, also known as "Smiling Hank,'' has a long memory.
"The bottom line is what motivates you every day,'' he said. "And for me the fact I was sent packing after I helped turn organizations around and doing my job both on and off the field, being an ambassador not only for the community but for the team and also for the league - just to be sent packing the way that it occurred.''
Ending Hamilton's season last weekend was something to savour for Burris, who recalled being on the phone learning that the Ticats no longer wanted him as his wife read on her iPad that the Ticats had signed Zach Collaros.
"It's little things like that than I hold on,'' Burris said. "Of course, when I'm training, it gets me to an emotional point sometimes. I'm not saying I want revenge but to be able to go out and achieve what we did was the easiest way to get revenge. And I know that cuts deep.''
Defeating the Ticats three times at the end of this season was sweet, sweeter and even sweeter.
Burris' joy was plain to see after the Redblacks' dramatic 35-28 Eastern semifinal win over Hamilton last weekend. Swarmed by fans in the aftermath, he celebrated with his family.
Ultimately it became a teachable moment for Burris and his two young sons. The celebration showed them why their father gets up at the crack of dawn during the season or takes up gymnastics in the off-season to improve his core strength.
"Hopefully they understand the premise of hard work,'' he said.
Bottom line, it appears that while you can part ways with Burris, you can't escape him.
"No matter what you say, you can't rule me out,'' said Burris, before turning the spotlight back to his fellow Redblacks, who are one victory from winning it all after going 2-16 in their inaugural season.
"I'm nothing without my teammates,'' he added. "And I've said that time in, time out, wherever I've played, I'm nothing without my teammates. And hopefully my teammates feel they're the same without me.''
Receiver Brad Sinopoli said the Redblacks share that chip.
"I think we also feel like a lot of us have something to prove as well along with him. So I think collectively when he starts feeling like that, we kind of relate to it as well. And now as a group now we feel we all have something to prove.''
Burris admits he plays better when he's angry.
"And I'm angry this week because I felt like I played like crap last week.''