Ottawa Redblacks' quarterback Henry Burris was widely criticized following his return to action in the Redblacks' loss to the Argonauts last week, with some of that criticism coming from the CFL panel at TSN. At halftime of Ottawa's game against Edmonton Saturday, which saw them leading the Eskimos 10-6, Burris did a sideline interview with TSN's Matthew Scianitti and had harsh words for "all those guys at TSN" (starting at 0:17):
Scianitti asked Burris, "You had a real passionate, emotional message for your team before the game. Have you seen the kind of emotional reaction you wanted from them in the first half?"
Burris responded "Well, all these guys at TSN always want to jump on me every week. And it seems like me, here I am, playing hard, trying to turn around every team in this league. For people out there, I've turned around four teams in this league. And I've helped do it here too. So for all those people talking junk out there, you can take that and shove it, all right? That's all I've got to say!"
That's a passionate and emotional rant from Burris, along the lines of many we've seen from him before, and it's somewhat an understandable one. He was named the league's Most Outstanding Player last year after a phenomenal season at age 40, and yet many have recently said he should be demoted in favour of Trevor Harris (after Burris was hurt in the first game this year and Harris filled in brilliantly; Burris' status is currently tenuous, as Harris is injured at the moment). Burris has also been criticized and cast off by plenty of teams and gone on to find success elsewhere, so it's understandable if he's not so thrilled to hear people bashing him. However, the criticism of Burris intensifying after last week was deserved; he completed just 20 of 34 passes (58.8 per cent) for 218 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions against Toronto, and his play was a major reason the Argos knocked off the Redblacks despite having to give Logan Kilgore his first CFL start.
Burris' claims of "turning around four teams" are also a little overstated. Yes, he helped Saskatchewan go from 8-10 to 11-7 in 2003, but they fell back to 9-9 the next year, and yes, his 2005 arrival helped Calgary go from 4-14 to 11-7, but Hamilton actually dropped from 8-10 to 6-12 in his first season there (2012), and while they improved to 10-8 and a Grey Cup berth the next year, that wasn't all about Burris (which was why they axed him in the offseason to make way for Zach Collaros). Moreover, his first season in Ottawa was a dismal 2-16 campaign in 2014, and while that wasn't all on him, part of it was. Yes, Burris has helped four teams that had previously struggled make it to West Finals (Saskatchewan) and Grey Cups (the other three teams, with Calgary winning one too), and he did play a major role in all of that success, but it wasn't all about him.
Burris also can't say that he's immune from criticism just because of what he's done in the past. His career is incredibly impressive, but the CFL is a "what have you done for me lately?" league. Burris' play in the first half of Saturday's game was solid, and if he can keep that up and produce a win for the Redblacks, that will help him much more than any rant. If not, analysts are going to go right back to critcizing and doubting him, and they won't be wrong to do so. Yes, Burris gets plenty of criticism, but he gets criticism when he plays poorly and praise when he plays well, just like any other player. Past accomplishments are fine, but he'll need to keep producing if he wants analysts not to "jump on him." Superior play is the real way to tell them to "shove it."