Henry Armand Burris (born June 4, 1975) is a former professional football quarterback, who mostly played in the Canadian Football League (CFL) from 1998 to 2016. He won three Grey Cup championships, two with the Calgary Stampeders, 1998 and 2008, and one with the Ottawa Redblacks in 2016.
Burris won the CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award in 2010 and 2015. At time of retirement, Burris was third in all-time CFL passing yards and passing touchdowns. While in Canada, he was also a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Burris also spent time in the National Football League with the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. Prior to his professional career, he played college football with the Temple Owls.
Burris attended Temple (1993-96) set 20 school records during his four-year career and still owns the Owls single game marks for passing yards (445) and total offense (502), both set at Pitt in 1996. He finished University ranked second all-time in Big East Conference passing with 7,495 yards. Burris was also inducted into the Temple University Athletics Hall of Fame, Class of 2018.
Burris attended Spiro High School in Spiro, Oklahoma, and won four varsity letters each in football, track, basketball, and baseball. In football, he was named the Oklahoma Offensive Player of the Year as a senior.
Most importantly, Burris married his university sweetheart, Nicole. She was an All-American field lacrosse player while at Temple. Together, they have two boys, Armand and Barron.
Career history As player
Career highlights and awards
Burris went undrafted in the NFL and signed a contract with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders in 1997. He spent the entire season on the Stampeders' practice roster.
He experienced limited playing time in 1998 behind future NFL quarterback, Jeff Garcia, and current Calgary Stampeder Head Coach, Dave Dickenson. Henry dressed for all Stampeders' games, which included a victory in the 96th Grey Cup. After being named Grey Cup MVP, Jeff Garcia departed for the NFL and that opened a door for Burris in 1999. He received more playing time as Dickenson's backup. In Game 3 against the Edmonton Eskimos, Burris replaced an injured Dickenson. He led the Stampeders to a come-from-behind victory. He started the following two games against the Montreal Alouettes and BC Lions. A season ending knee injury put an end to the 1999 campaign.
After dawning different jerseys over five seasons, Burris returned to the new look Stampeders for the 2005 season. In the off-season, Burris signed a lucrative free agent deal with the Stampeders to be their franchise QB. In his first year back, he wasted no time changing the teams. Calgary went from a 4-14 team in 2004 to 11-7. Calgary made consecutive appearances in the playoffs from 2005-2007, but sustained losses in the West Semifinals.
However, in 2008, Burris won his first Grey Cup as a starter. Burris lead the Calgary Stampeders to a league best 13-5 record and a 22–14 Grey Cup victory, over the host Montreal Alouettes. Burris also captured the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player and was a finalist for the league's most outstanding player award. Eclipsing the 5000 yards passing mark (5094 yds), plus a career high (up to ’08) with 39 TDs.
Burris led the Calgary Stampeders to the playoffs over the next two seasons (2009-2010). Both seasons concluded with losses in the Western Finals. Burris quarterbacked Calgary to a CFL best record of 13–5 in 2010, finishing first in the Western Conference. He was named to his 1st CFL Most Outstanding Player award for that season.
During the 2011 season, Burris’ and the Stampeders qualified for the playoffs but lost in the semifinals to the Edmonton Eskimos. After an outstanding 7 year run with the Calgary Stampeders, Burris was traded to the Hamilton Tiger Cats.
Calgary Career Stats
(at conclusion of final season w team)
1st Career Passing Yards: 32,191
1st Most Completions, Career: 2267
5th Pass Completions, Season: 381(2008)
1st Most Passing Touchdowns, Career: 203
4th and 5th Passing Touchdowns, Season: 39(2008) 38(2010)
After working out for 22 NFL teams, the Green Bay Packers took interest and signed him to a contract. Burris would fill the 3rd QB role behind now Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach, Doug Pederson HOF Brett Favre.
Heading into the playoffs, Burris was placed on the practice roster. Following the playoffs, with Burris being a free agent, the Chicago Bears signed the QB to a contract.
He was signed by the Chicago Bears in the off-season. During the 2002 season, Burris saw action in six games for the Bears. He completed 18 passes for 207 yards, with three touchdowns and five interceptions. He received significant playing time in the final two games against Carolina and Tampa Bay. As a young QB, he faired like a young quarterback would versus two top NFL defenses. He was 8 of 22 for 50 yards and a touchdown against Carolina, fumbling twice, and 7 of 19 for 78 yards and four interceptions against Tampa Bay, the eventual Super Bowl champions. He displayed inexperience in his passing performance, but better than average running ability for a quarterback, finishing the 2002 season with 15 rushes for 104 yards.
Following the season, to beef up experience, Burris was sent to NFL Europe to play for the Berlin Thunder.
The Bears assigned him to NFL Europe's Berlin Thunder in 2003 where he performed respectably. His season was shortened by an injury. Following completion of rehab, Burris returned north to finish his contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Things would turn for the best with this move.
Burris returned to Canada in time for the 2003 CFL season, dressing for 10 games that season. He returned his starting position in 2004, starting in 14 games over the course of the season, and leading the Roughriders to the 2004 Western Final, narrowly missing advancing to the Grey Cup.
Following the trade to Hamilton, Burris had a career year in his first season. He threw for 5,367 yards and 43 touchdowns, with a passer rating of 104.4, all career highs. Unfortunately, the Tiger-Cats struggled to a 6-12 record and missed the playoffs.
During the 2013 season, Burris set his sights on improving the team, but also historical achievements were on the horizon. On September 13, 2013, midway through the 2013 CFL season, Burris became the 5th CFL quarterback to throw for 50,000 career passing yards. Burris' 4,925 passing yards was enough to lead the league in passing for the second consecutive year. Burris led the Tiger-Cats into the post-season with a record of 10–8, they defeated the Montreal Alouettes and then the Toronto Argonauts, but ultimately lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 101st Grey Cup game. Entering the off-season, Burris was set to become a free-agent in February, but was released early by the Tiger Cats.
Upon being released by Hamilton, Burris received a call from the newest CFL franchise, Ottawa Redblacks.
Tiger Cats Records
(conclusion of Tiger Cats tenure)
1st & 6th Passing Yards, Season: 5367(2012) & 4925(2013)
1st & 4th Pass Completions, Season: 391(2012) & 373(2013)
1st Passing Touchdown, Season: 43(2012)
Guess many would say Henry Burris saved the best for last! After being acquired by Ottawa, Burris had the opportunity to recreate the culture of football in Canada’s national capital. However, with an expansion team, the inaugural season of 2014 played out as so for Burris and the Redblacks. After winning the first ever game played at home since 2005, Ottawa defeated the Toronto Argonauts in front of capacity to set the stage for an outstanding final chapter to Burris’ career. However the remainder of the season wasn’t as joyful as the 1st year Redblacks struggled to a 2-16 season.
In 2015, Ottawa and CFL witnessed one of the greatest turnarounds in CFL history. Burris sparked their season by posting career highs and breaking CFL records. After two victories in 2015, Ottawa went on to win the Eastern Division and post 12-6 record. Securing home field during the playoffs, the Redblacks won the East over in dramatic fashion, defeating Hamilton 35-28. A 93 yard pass play between Burris and Greg Ellingson will be forever remember in Redblacks history as 2nd and 25!!! The win advanced the Redblacks to the 103rd Grey Cup against the Edmonton Eskimos. Ottawa failed to defeat their western opponent, 26-20.
The 2015 season brought plenty of individual accomplishments to Burris. They include, a CFL record for completions in a game connecting on 45 passes for a career-high 504 passing yards. Burris became the CFL's record holder for most completions in a season with 481 completions. Additionally, Burris finished the 2015 season as the league leader in passing yards and completion percentage (5693 yds, %70). This type of production awarded Burris with his 2nd Most Outstanding Player award in the CFL.
Burris’ 2016 and final season presented all the highs and lows of a soap opera. However, the ending was that of a movie script. Game one of the season versus the Edmonton Eskimos, saw Burris break is pinky finger on his throwing hand. This injury put him out of football for over a month. Musical chairs highlighted the season mixed with injuries and QB shuffling. However, the final four games of the regular season, Burris led Ottawa to a 2nd consecutive East Division title with an 8-9-1 record. In the East Final, Burris led the way with three touchdown passes, as the Redblacks found revenge over their 2015 Grey Cup opponent, Edmonton Eskimos.
Finally, in the 104th Grey Cup, the Ottawa Redblacks took on the Calgary Stampeders. The second appearance was all Burris needed. He saved his best performance for last. Behind Burris throwing for 461 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also added 2 TD runs leading the Redblacks to a 39-33 victory. It was deemed one of the biggest upsets in Grey Cup history. Burris performance rewarded him the 2016 Grey Cup MVP award.
Following the season, Burris and his family announce his retirement from football on January 24, 2017.
Ottawa Redblacks Records
(conclusion of Redblacks tenure)
1st Passing Yards, Career: 11,850
1st Passing Yards, Season: 5703(2015)
1st Pass Completions, Career: 976
1st Completions, Season: 481(2015)
1st Rushing Touchdowns, Career: 13
1st Passing Touchdowns, Career: 49