TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
Burris shows up at Redblacks practice after tweets about team’s leadership
Henry Burris didn't think much of it when he sent out a tweet, then another, than another on Sunday.
The message: “You can't take the leadership of a team away and expect the same results.”
The fallout: A Twitter firestorm with Redblacks fans and maybe some of the team's players reading plenty into what the 42-year-old quarterback who led his team to a Grey Cup win in 2016 had to say.
And, on Monday, Burris showed up at practice, the first one he has been to this year.
Redblacks GM Marcel Desjardins talked to reporters at the beginning of practice: “I'm not even going to comment on it. What's the point? What's there to say? It's not factual. We have a lot of leaders on this team, starting with Trevor (Harris), SirVincent (Rogers), (Brad) Sinopoli, (Greg) Ellingson, Pat Lavoie, Jon Gott — you can go on and on and on.
“I'm sure I'll see (Burris) and we'll have a discussion over it and we'll go from there.”
Give Burris credit for showing up and chatting up his former teammates.
“I know how Twitter can be,” Burris said. “Everybody thought I was calling out leadership. This is going to be a very good team, but to hold them to the standard of what we had last year is unfair. There are so many new faces on this team, give them a chance to grow. Change in the locker room brings change on the field.
“They're close to getting over the hump. There are probably some who don't really know me that probably thought I was taking shots at this team, maybe they took it the wrong way. But the guys that know me know I couldn't, (that's not what I meant).”
Several of Burris' former teammates came to the sideline to say hello. Defensive back Antoine Pruneau stormed over and jokingly yelled, “That's bulls—t.” Later, Pruneau laughed when asked who would win a fight between him and Burris.
“Me, he's 42. It would be a good fight, he's pretty sneaky. DBs are hyenas, we attack in bunches and we attack from the back. We'd all go after him, he wouldn't have a chance. You know receivers, they don't want to get involved, they avoid that kind of stuff. Somebody's just got to distract the O-linemen and we're good.”
Burris' former teammates weren't getting caught up in the fuss after Monday's practice. They're more concerned with finding a way to win football games — with just a win and a tie in seven games so far this season.
“I think we have good leadership,” Rogers said. “Like he said, we lost some good leaders as well. It's our job and it's our team to make work for us. That's what we're out here fighting trying to do."
“I don't worry about anything outside of the locker room,” defensive back Jer-
rell Gavins said. “As far as the leadership goes, I think we have the leadership, it's building. Like (Burris) said, we're growing into the leadership. Dudes just can't walk around yelling.”
“I was a little bit (surprised), that I didn't hear it from him before he put it on the Internet,” Pruneau said. “He's a guy who's got an opinion, people respect him. He was verbal with us in the locker room so I'm not surprised he's verbal outside of it. He cares for the Ottawa Redblacks. I don't think (leadership) is a big issue, but you can always have more leadership.”
It's a fact there are plenty of newcomers in the starting lineup. Ten of the 24 players who started on offence and defence in last year's 39-33 overtime win over the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup are no longer with the team, two others are injured and a number of backups have also left.
“Henry's a friend of mine, he'll always be a friend," Redblacks coach Rick Campbell said. “Sometimes when you read something, it might be different than what the person meant. But I don't agree we're lacking leadership or playmakers. I think we have the makings of a good team, we just have to show it.”
Burris said he believes in the team's starting quarterback, Harris.
“We talked yesterday, I had a good talk with him,” Burris said. “I told him to keep on slinging it. I told him he's doing great out there. It's just the little things, in the fourth quarter they have to pull together. It's something teams go through.”
Desjardins added there has been no thought given to a quarterback change.
“It's not even a consideration," he said.
The GM said it's not lack of leadership that's the problem: “You know why we're where we're at? Because we have 13 turnovers, that's why we're where we're at. We have the players here. We have a good offence. Our defence is evolving. We lead the league in turnovers, take half of those away and we probably have a better record. That's what it comes down to is execution, protecting the ball, period.”
Former Redblacks quarterback Henry Burris had some tweets that were critical of the team’s leadership on Sunday. He was at practice yesterday.
Top, Ottawa Redblacks quarterbacks Henry Burris (right) and quarterback Trevor Harris celebrate after defeating the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup last year. With Burris retiring in the off-season, Harris has become the undisputed first-string QB, though the team has struggled early this season.