TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER

Bur­ris shows up at Red­blacks prac­tice af­ter tweets about team’s lead­er­ship

Ottawa Sun - - FRONT PAGE - TIM BAINES

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.”

TIM BAINES

POST­MEDIA NETWORK

For­mer Red­blacks quar­ter­back Henry Bur­ris had some tweets that were crit­i­cal of the team’s lead­er­ship on Sun­day. He was at prac­tice yes­ter­day.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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