Henry Burris: Redblacks’ Rick Campbell, Marcel Desjardins playing Survivor

Ottawa Redblacks president Mark Goudie could be playing the role of Jeff Probst and deciding whether Rick Campbell’s or Marcel Desjardins’ torches are snuffed out.

Former red and black quarterback Henry Burris believes the two have separate alliances within the organization.

“Is it turning into Survivor island where everybody is creating their bunker where they have their guys on their side and their corner going against everybody else? Burris wondered on TSN 1200 radio in Ottawa.

“Well for Marcel’s sake if you’re in the front office you can’t do that because if there’s no relationship between the front office and the players, you’re not going to be successful.” 

Burris played three seasons in the nation’s capital alongside Campbell and Desjardins, so he knows both men well. Burris is still living in the nation’s capital has numerous relationships with players currently on the Redblacks’ roster, providing him a unique perspective on what’s happening behind the scenes.

“If there’s no relationship between the front office and the coaches, it’s hard for the coaches to coach without feeling some type of resistance as far as from the most important side of the whole ledger,” Burris said. 

“Relationships have to be patched up because this thing’s not going to get any better moving forward if guys can’t work together. Right now there’s no family over there.”

Ottawa went from playing in the Grey Cup last year, making appearances in three out of the last four championship games — winning in 2016 with Burris at the helm — to securing the league’s worst record in 2019 and the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. The 44-year-old knows an evaluation process must be conducted by everyone involved with the Redblacks’ franchise, especially regarding the evaluation of talent.

“It starts from the top down, where relationships have to be mended because with all the rumours you’re hearing as far as between Marcel Desjardins and his relationship with the players when he walked in just over a month ago and yelled at the players. How are the players looking at Marcel being the fact of what happened in the off-season?” Burris said. 

“But then how are things between Marcel and Rick Campbell? You hear the rumours going around, swirling about so and so is going to be gone, he’s going to be gone. The guy who has to get it started is the man up top.”

Desjardins hired Campbell and traded for Burris when the Redblacks were starting up back in 2013. The trio were on the same page for many years together and even after Burris’ retirement Ottawa remained successful in 2017 and 2018, winning the East Division last season and appearing in the Grey Cup.

“It all goes hand-in-hand and right now those two gotta patch things up before this thing’s going to improve,” Burris said. 

“He needs to get inside and talk to Rick right now because Rick did help him get new contracts and did also help him go to three Grey Cups. The GM can deliver the players, but the coaches gotta help them perform and put the players in positions to be successful.” 

The votes are about to be cast by the Ottawa Redblacks’ tribal council.

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Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).