Henry Burris is back in the United States windy city.
After playing for Chicago, Burris will put on Bears colours again, no jersey this time around, instead coaches attire. Current head coach Matt Nagy called Burris in June and the two talked for hours about joining the coaching staff.
“Coach Nagy said to me, ‘Hank, you need to see if this is actually what you want to do. Come down, experience this. I feel you’re going to be great. But are you ready to bite the bullet? I know you came off a successful career being a quarterback, but now you have to start all over and earn your stripes,'” Burris told Postmedia reporter Tim Baines.
“I told him, ‘Matt, I just want to learn, get better and help out the team any way possible.’ You have to get your feet wet before you go into battle. If there was any year I could do it, it was this year.”
In February, Burris made a trip to the NFL combine in Indianapolis and met with members from a handful of teams. Baltimore, Los Angeles, Kansas City and Chicago offered him opportunities.
Burris accepted the Bears offer for training camp as part of the Bill Walsh diversity coaching fellowship, which has existed since 1987 to use NFL clubs’ training camps, off-season workout programs and mini-camps to give talented coaches opportunities to observe, participate, gain experience with the end goal being permanent NFL employment.
“For me, it was a no-brainer to take advantage of the diversity program — with them trying to get more offensive coaches of colour into the league. It’s a step forward for me. I’d be a fool to say I’m not interested. Opportunities happen for a reason. They sold me on it,” Burris said.
The NFL coaching program will see Burris involved in training camp activities and he could return to his duties at TSN as an analyst once a potential CFL season begins. Although, there are participants in the program who end up being hired as full-time NFL coaches.
“It’s an internship program, it’s how a lot of guys work their way up and become a coach. I was like, ‘Why not, who knows what possibilities arise from this?’ With all the experience and knowledge I’ve been able to gain working with different coaches in different systems, I can help some of these young guys who are trying to get their careers going,” Burris said.
The 45-year-old former quarterback spent the entire 2002 NFL season with the Bears. He played in six games, started one, completing 18-of-51 passes for 207 yards with three touchdowns versus five interceptions and rushed 15 times for 104 yards. Chicago went 4-12 under head coach Dick Jauron and missed the playoffs that season.
Burris will be working with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and current pivots Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles and Tyler Bray. The focus for Burris is to learn the playbook and soak up as much information as possible about coaching at the NFL level.
“I had goosebumps when I arrived in Chicago,” Burris said after touching down there Thursday.
“When I got to the facility, I had chills running up and down my spine. There’s nothing guaranteed with this, but it’s a step in the right direction. I’m very excited.”