Temple University’s athletic department inducted former quarterback Henry Burris and nine other former athletes into the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday.
Burris was among four All-Americans, a National Champion, an Olympian, two members of their respective national hall of fame’s, an all-time record holder in her sport, one of the greatest players in the history of Canadian football, and an NBA head coach to be inducted to the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame, according to Athletic Director Patrick Kraft.
Burris set 20 school records during his time at the university from 1993-96. He still owns the single-game record for yards with 445 and total offense with 502 in a 1996 game against the University of Pittsburgh.
He returned to Temple on Friday for the induction ceremony at the Student Training and Recreation Complex at 15th Street and Montgomery Avenue.
“It means everything,” Burris said. “You never go into it expecting to reach this mark, but when you’re getting recognized by people who were there with you and helping you become the person that you are today.”
Burris wasn’t drafted by any NFL teams after he graduated in 1996, so he signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in 1997. He spent most of his time on the team’s practice squad that year. In 1998, he dressed for all 18 games, but he only attempted 11 passes for the Grey Cup champions that season.
Burris spent 17 seasons in the CFL, but he had a brief opportunity at a spot in the NFL.
Before the 2000 season, he signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, earning his first chance as a starter. He threw 30 touchdowns and for more than 4,000 yards, which caught the attention of the Green Bay Packers. In 2001, the team signed him to a three-year deal.
Burris never played in a game for the Packers, but he suited up for Green Bay’s division rival, the Chicago Bears, in 2002. He played six games and made one start. Burris never played in the NFL after that season.
He later went overseas to play for the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe in 2003, but was unhappy with this situation and returned to the Roughriders.
“I remember that after I went undrafted, I came back home pretty disappointed,” Burris said. “But the first phone call I received was from my now wife, Nicole, and she said, ‘Keep your head up. We’ve seen what you’ve been able to do and what you’re capable of.’”
With Saskatchewan in 2004, Burris threw for 4,267 yards. The next six seasons, with the Calgary Stampeders, he threw for more than 4,000 yards passing.
Burris won two more Grey Cups with the Calgary Stampeders during his career, and he won the MVP in each game. In 2008, he threw for 328 yards and ran for 79 in Calgary’s 22-14 win against Montreal Alouettes.
Burris closed his career by throwing for 461 yards and three touchdowns in Ottawa’s Grey Cup win in 2016. He helped the Redblacks win their first title in 40 years.
While with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013, Burris became just the fifth CFL quarterback to throw for 50,000 yards. He helped lead the team to the 101st Grey Cup, but the Tiger-Cats lost to the Roughriders.
He retired after the 2016 Grey Cup ranked third in CFL history in yards passing and touchdown passes and with two Most Outstanding Player awards to his name.
Burris still looks back on his days at Temple and considers the influence they had on his career accomplishments.
“My dream was always to help nothing turn into something, and to see where Temple is today,” Burris said. “When I walked off that field after my last game in Canada…everything that I had experienced here at Temple, all the experiences that I had learned, all came together in one shining moment for me,” he said.