Henry Burris admits Riders reached out, offers #FakeNews explanation

So last Sunday, Justin Dunk posted a little story about the fact that the Saskatchewan Roughriders had reached out to Henry Burris before ultimately signing Drew Tate as quarterback insurance heading into the West semi-final.

It was yet another inside scoop from Dunk, the kind that he’s produced repeatedly for 3Down over the last three-plus years. This is, after all, the guy that put himself on the proverbial map by live-Tweeting the CFL Draft before picks were actually announced (it made TSN so mad that he doesn’t do it anymore. In his time at 3Down, we’ve never retracted a single Dunk story (no, not even that one.)

Given Dunk’s track record and Burris’ media savvy, I was somewhat surprised when Smilin’ Hank – a guy I have a lot of time for, by the way – came back at Dunk with this Tweet:

Now, Fake News is a phrase popularized by U.S. president Donald Trump that means different things to different people, typically depending on your political bent. Those inclined to agree with Trump that the media is the “enemy of the people” use #FakeNews as a label to disagree with anything they don’t like or agree with it. To others, it’s a signal that misdirection is being employed to avoid dealing with the real issues at hand. Needless to say, I’m in the latter camp.

And lo and behold, it turns out that Dunk’s report wasn’t #FakeNews after all, according to…. well, Henry Burris.

PostMedia’s Tim Baines has a story that does it’s best to recast what Dunk reported – a tactic often employed by reporters forced to follow up on a Dunk scoop – as not to be taken seriously. But let’s take a look at what Dunk wrote and then at what Burris told Baines.

Here’s the line from our story:

Drew Tate wasn’t the only veteran quarterback the Saskatchewan Roughriders reached out to as they looked for an insurance policy for injured starter Zach Collaros.

Per CFL sources, the Riders reached out to retired pivot Henry Burris before inking a deal with Tate.

Here’s the quote from Burris:

“They called me. They were asking me if I knew of anybody who would be a good quarterback for them because of the situation they were in where Zach (Collaros) wouldn’t be able to play (in Sunday’s West semi-final). They were like, ‘Well, we know you aren’t coming back anytime soon, are you?’ I was like, ‘Nah, I’m not stepping back onto the field.’…”

Dunk says the Riders called Hank to gauge his interest in returning. Hank says the Riders called to gauge his interest in returning. That’s… the same thing.

Now, Hank and Baines do their best to couch it as the Riders were only calling to get Burris’ input on who might be available. That’s because Chris Jones and John Murphy, whose job it is to scour the earth for football talent – of which quarterbacks are the most important – don’t know who’s out there and needed to call Burris for advice.

That’s some #FakeNews.

The part I really don’t get is why Burris denied it in the first place: it’s actually a compliment that the Riders think the 43-year-old might have enough in the tank for one more magic moment (and given Burris’ commitment to staying in shape during his playing days, it makes perfect sense.) I wonder if Burris still has the arm-cannon to throw a 70-yard Hail Mary…

Anyway, two lessons here: first, be leery of anyone throwing around #FakeNews, even in the CFL. And second, don’t doubt the Dunk. Ever.

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