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Home Field Hero

A Q&A with CFL star quarterback Henry Burris

By Jeremy Freeborn

Labor Day Classic

Photograph: © Stampeders/Cory Shannon/2006, courtesy Calgary Stampeder Football Club

At 34 years old, Henry Burris, has become the top rushing quarterback in the Canadian Football League. Known for his wide smile, last season was “Hank’s” best yet, with him hitting two career milestones: reaching 5,000 yards, and throwing a total of 39 touchdown passes.

Luckily for Calgary, Burris is the quarterback of the city’s CFL team, The Calgary Stampeders, a team he lead to their sixth Grey Cup win last November, where he won the title of Grey Cup MVP. This past June he signed a contract with the affectionately known “Stamps” that will allow him to stay with the team until 2012.

Where Magazine sat down with the football champ to talk about winning the Grey Cup, his new son, and what inspired him to pursue a career in football.

When did you first show an interest in playing football?
“Very early on in life. I grew up watching the Dallas Cowboys in Spiro, Oklahoma, a small town of 2,000 people, where everybody loves football. We always had the entire town at our games watching us play. I had pads on when I was six years old. It’s born in to you, everybody played it and I loved the game. That’s why I pursued a dream and I’m blessed the dream came true for me.”

This past November, you experienced one of your greatest personal achievements by leading the Calgary Stampeders to a Grey Cup Championship and being named Grey Cup MVP. What moment during the game stood out most for you?
“Towards the end of the fourth quarter. We were having a pretty good drive towards the direction of the Jumbotron. It was the moment where you see RCMP officers walking the Grey Cup into the Stadium. We heard a buzz in the crowd. I was able to see it, but the rest of my teammates couldn’t because their backs were to the Jumbotron. I saw it in the corner of my eye, but I took my eyes off it pretty quick. We were so focused on doing things right on the field instead of what the prize was.”

Photograph: © Stampeders/Cory Shannon/2006, courtesy Calgary Stampeder Football Club

Photograph: © Stampeders/Cory Shannon/2006, courtesy Calgary Stampeder Football Club

What do you like most about being a Calgary Stampeder?
“The pride of the city. This is a great city and to be a Calgary Stampeder is a special thing. I am an entertainer and there is no other city in the world I would rather entertain people. This is the place where I started, and hopefully this is the place I can end it.”

What is your favourite restaurant in Calgary, and where do you like to shop?
“When it comes to steaks, I’m a big Japanese Village fan. I’m a cuisine-based eater. I also like Joey Tomato’s, Rouge, Nick’s, Oriental Phoenix, Redwater Rustic Grille, Smuggler’s Inn and Bolero. When it comes to shopping, I love going to Supreme Men’s Wear because they create and design their own clothing.”

What have you been up to since winning the Grey Cup?
“I’ve been pretty busy. Nicole [Burris’ wife] and I had our second child, a boy named Barron Grey. I wanted to make sure I spent more time at home with my family. This year will be an even bigger burden, but it’s something I look forward to. The demands are higher with the Grey Cup being here and the brain needs to be sharp. I need to make sure I’m ready to go for our team.”

The Grey Cup was first presented to the University of Toronto in 1909 and turns 100 this year. How meaningful would it be to win the award on home soil at McMahon Stadium on November 29th?

“For us to accomplish something like that would be very special. This city is worthy. It would be a special thing to be a part of. We’re right there sitting at home plate and we have to make it happen now. It would be an amazing feat for us.”

For a list of the Calgary Stampeders’ home games, click here.

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