Written by Guest Blogger: Mitchell Blair Riderville.com
It’s seemingly an annual rite of passage in Saskatchewan during the summer months. Whenever the Calgary Stampeders come to town, it’s time for 30-thousand leather-lunged Rider fans to let former Rider quarterback Henry Burris have it lock, stock and barrel the moment he steps onto the turf at Mosaic Stadium. It’s been that way for a long time now, but I think it’s time to let bygones be bygones and to concentrate on the future instead of dwelling on the past.
There is no doubt that when Burris left Saskatchewan in 2005 to sign a deal with the Stampeders that there was a tremendous amount of animosity. Burris had just taken the Riders to the Western final – a final they might have won had it not been for Paul McCallum’s infamous shank — and Burris had played perhaps his best game in a Rider uniform. However, he and the football team could not come to an agreement on a new contract and when Calgary came calling, Burris accepted their offer, snubbing the Riders and turning him from a hero to a villain overnight. That status hasn’t changed, but when you look at the fortunes of the /=S=/, its my belief that the team is better off without Burris today then they are with him.
If Burris had stayed, chances are he would still be the quarterback of this team. Would Henry have been able to capture the magic that Kerry Joseph did in 2007 when he was the league’s Most Outstanding Player while leading to the Riders to a much-celebrated Grey Cup championship—one that hadn’t been seen on the Prairies since 1989 and just the 3rd overall in franchise history? If Henry was still here, would we even know what current quarterback Darian Durant was all about? Durant is the present and future of the football club. With Durant at the helm, the Riders are secure in the quarterback position for the next 5-6 years if not longer. This team has accomplished a lot without Burris and in a way, I think they are better without him even though their record this year does not indicate that.
The Riders have beaten Burris, Burris has beaten the Riders. Henry has a Grey Cup, the Riders have a Grey Cup, Henry has been named the Most Outstanding Player in this league and since he has been gone, a Rider quarterback has also won that honour. The only thing that hasn’t happened is Burris beating the Riders in a playoff game. What is left?
Anthony Calvillo has done more damage to this football team in the past two years, but Rider fans don’t hold him in contempt the way they do Burris. Rider fans don’t chant Rickkkk-eeeeee or Luuuuuuu-layyyyyy when the Eskimos or Lions come into town the way they chant Hennnnnnn-rreeeeeeeeee when Calgary comes to town. Its time for the Burris hate to subside a little or for the abuse that other quarterbacks take when coming to town to increase. It is time to let bygones be bygones.