OTTAWA — The streets of the nation’s capital were flooded by a sea of red and black on Tuesday afternoon, as the Ottawa REDBLACKS celebrated their Grey Cup victory in front of at least 40,000 fans according to an estimate by the Ottawa Police Service.
Two days after a 39-33 overtime win over the Calgary Stampeders in the 104th Grey Cup presented by Shaw, players and coaches paraded down Bank Street from Pretoria Avenue to Aberdeen at a rally just outside TD Place.
The thrilling victory, marked as the biggest upset in CFL Grey Cup history, was the city’s first professional football championship in 40 years. It was also the first Grey Cup for the Ottawa franchise since returning to the league in 2014 as an expansion team.
“This is an unbelievable day,” Rick Campbell told those in attendance. “I couldn’t be more proud to call Ottawa my home. These are the best fans, bar none.”
Campbell, President of OSEG Sports Jeff Hunt and quarterback and Grey Cup MVP Henry Burris all took the podium surrounded by the rest of the team as well as the Grey Cup itself.
“This is what this moment is all about,” Burris told the audience. “My wife Nicole and I, when we received that call . . . when we signed that contract, we dreamed of this moment right here.
“There are organizations out there that said we couldn’t do it,” he continued. “But they haven’t won a Grey Cup in decades. But because we have the finest fan base in the entire CFL, in three seasons we are Grey Cup Champions. And after all that we’ve been through in the three seasons, you all turned out and filled up this stadium every game.”
Images: Thousands celebrate at REDBLACKS’ Grey Cup parade
In the middle of Burris’ speech, as the 41-year-old hinted at an uncertain future, fans began chanting ‘one more year’.
“Like I told everybody, when you go to Vegas or you go on vacation, you don’t talk about work,” Burris responded. “Right now this is like Vegas and I can’t talk about work. But I dedicate this one to my family, so right now it’s about getting this knee right, and after the holidays we will deal with that.”
Still, Burris made one thing obvious during the rally: if he is back in 2017, there’s nowhere he’d rather be than Ottawa, where he hopes to have a chance to repeat next season.
“We’ve had cake, the icing and the cherry on top,” said Burris. “And we’re going to eat the cake now. But as we know, we’re greedy and we all love dessert, so why not eat two cakes and win back to back?”
The CFL’s third all-time leading passer, Burris reached a high point in his 17-year professional career with a performance for the ages on Sunday night at Toronto’s BMO Field.
After suffering a knee injury during team warm-ups, Burris was initially questionable to play. But he took the field in time for Ottawa’s first possession and became the first quarterback since Danny McManus in 1996 to break 400 passing yards in a Grey Cup game.
Burris, who was on crutches during Tuesday’s rally, says his knee may require surgery in the off-season.
How the REDBLACKS’ quarterback situation unfolds will be the biggest question of the off-season in the nation’s capital. For now, however, the city and its football team are in celebration.