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Inside the CFL: New home for Smilin' Hank?

Ted Michaels, CFL Editor

Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - Calgary Stampeder fans may have seen the start of the new era Friday night.

Henry Burris, who's spent 10 of his 13 seasons with the Stampeders as their quarterback, didn't get the start against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at McMahon Stadium.

Instead, Drew Tate, the University of Iowa grad, did, and he led the Stampeders to a 25-13 win.

Tate looked strong in his start as a pro, completing 23-of-32 passes for one touchdown with two interceptions.

Under current head coach and GM John Hufnagel, Burris started 69 games for the Stamps.

But prior to Friday night, in the previous seven games, the Stamps were 2-5 under Burris, who threw seven interceptions and had eight fumbles in that stretch.

Burris, the MVP in the 2008 Grey Cup and the league's Most Outstanding Player last season, clearly was not happy with the move.

On Thursday, he spoke with the media and said, "I feel my chance will come back. To be even talking about a chance is quite embarrassing because I feel I've done more than any quarterback in this league in the years that I've played. I shouldn't have to even talk about it. I'm a team player and I will support Drew and the guys and be ready whenever my number is called."

The 36 year-old, known as "Smilin' Hank," thinks some people in the league are quietly applauding his demotion.

"You're always going to have those people who want to see others fail. I don't see this as a failure, but there may be some people who are gloating."

The decision to replace Burris came after the Stampeders lost 31-29 in Toronto. Burris completed just 6-of-11 passes for 65 yards and two touchdowns.

"I had two interceptions and I got pulled," said Burris. "I've had other games where I had two interceptions and we won. It's one of those things that you have to deal with in sports. When you're winning, the minuses are overlooked. When you lose games, they come to light."

Burris added, "This organization is trying to find ways to spark this team. I don't feel I was the answer to that. I felt since I've been here that I've been one of the reasons why we've had success. I want to continue that and I know when I get back on the field I'll be ready."

The question is, which field will Burris call home?

One rumor that won't go away has Burris heading to Toronto next season.

The moribund Argos are hosting the 2012 Grey Cup. Right now, Steven Jyles is the starting quarterback.

Argos head coach and GM Jim Barker is calling next season the most important one in Argo history.

With home attendance dwindling, no doubt based on the current 4-12 record and a 3-5 mark at home, the Scullers need to get people in the greater Toronto area excited about CFL football again.

On October 30, the Rogers Centre will host the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins. Once again, the cries of "bring the NFL to Toronto" will be heard.

How will the Argos fight that battle?

Will the visage of "Smilin' Hank" be a prominent part of the marketing?

Stay tuned.


Undoubtedly, the high point of the Argo season has been the play of Chad Owens.

Friday night, during the Argos home game against Edmonton, the Argo WR/KR, returned a punt 36 yards to become the first player in professional football to record at least 3,000 combined yards in back-to-back seasons.

Owens now sits alongside Canadian Football Hall of Fame RB Michael 'Pinball' Clemons as one of just two players in football history to achieve more than 3,000 combined yards twice in a career. Clemons first accomplished the feat in 1990 with 3,300 yards and then set a single-season professional football record seven years later with 3,840 combined yards in 1997.

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter, on AM 900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Ted Michaels at
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