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With voting well underway for the All-Decade team presented by LeoVegas, CFL.ca columnists Pat Steinberg and Marshall Ferguson go back and forth on the biggest defining moment for a pair of nominated QBs.
TORONTO — There’s usually one moment that defines a quarterback’s career.
That moment sometimes happens on the biggest stage; When all eyes on are on them as they hope to win a championship. It could be the the final game of their career, where they hope to win the Grey Cup before hanging up their cleats. Or maybe it’s the journey of injuries, trades and everything in between leading to finally hoisting the coveted trophy.
Pat Steinberg and Marshall Ferguson have very different answers about which quarterback had has the biggest defining moment over the last decade. On one hand, the biggest moment is finishing your CFL career with a Grey Cup victory. On the other, it’s the journey of trials and tribulations that lead to finally winning a Cup.
MORE ON THE ALL-DECADE TEAM
|BERG VS. FERG: LAST TIME’S RESULTS
Last time, Berg and Ferg debated the best special teamers of the the last decade.
Poll Result: Who is the best special teamer of the last 10 years?
Ferguson: Brandon Banks (60%)
Steinberg: Justin Medlock (40%)
There’s something romantic about a future Hall of Famer going out on top. That’s exactly what Henry Burris did on November 27th, 2016 when he turned back the clock to lead the Ottawa REDBLACKS to their first Grey Cup. In Ottawa’s thrilling 39-33 win over the Calgary Stampeders in the 104th Grey Cup presented by Shaw, Burris not only finished his career as a champion, but also put together one of the most statistically stunning championship performances in recent memory. For those reasons, Burris put together THE defining quarterback moment of the 2010’s.
Burris, who was officially elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame earlier this summer, told me he knew that game in 2016 was going to be his last. He was 41 years old at the time and had ridden the emotional rollercoaster in the years leading in. Oh, and there was one extra wrinkle: Burris injured his knee in pre-game warmups, which would eventually need surgery. Just that alone would make Burris’s performance in the 104th Grey Cup legendary.
But then take a look at Burris’s final numbers: 461 yards on 35-for-46 passing, three passing touchdowns, and two more touchdowns on the ground. To put up those types of numbers in any playoff game is beyond impressive, but to do it in a Grey Cup game at the age of 41 is truly remarkable. Burris’s final touchdown pass in the CFL was the eventual game winner to Ernest Jackson in overtime to seal Ottawa’s victory.
There were some really impressive quarterback performances in the last decade. But for me, when you combine Burris’s performance in 2016 with the fact it was his retirement game, it really was the most resounding one for me.
Often ‘defining moments’ are labelled by a singular victory or an outstanding accomplishment. We judge all players, but especially quarterbacks, off of hard numbers and facts.
How hard can you throw? How many yards do you average? How many rings do you own?
While all of these are valid with context to the larger conversation, my selection for biggest QB defining moment of the decade is more of an appreciation for the journey than celebration of the destination.
Zach Collaros showed quickly that he needed to be a starting quarterback in the CFL. From pocket movement to arm strength, accuracy to touch Zach had it all as a young backup to Ricky Ray in Toronto. Given the chance in Hamilton he flourished while on route to an MOP award before tearing his ACL.
You know how the story goes, he returned but wasn’t quite as dominant. He was traded. He was traded again.. and then again.
From Toronto to Hamilton, Saskatchewan to Toronto, Collaros’ journey appeared to be one of winding roads and little validation, until one of the most magical marriages of team need and execution in recent CFL memory.
When Collaros landed in Winnipeg on trade deadline day 2019, you knew he was the right man to help out a struggling passing game, but a team with exceptional defence, ground attack and special teams.
All he did was execute a well framed offence and raise a Grey Cup over his head for the first time as a staring quarterback.
It wasn’t a mind blowing statistical game, he hasn’t racked up Bo Levi or Smilin’ Hank numbers, but Collaros longevity and journey through the CFL was defined by four weeks of Winnipeg football at the finish line of the 2010’s where he was so often a headline.
GET YOUR VOTE ON
Who do you agree with? Has Ferg sold you on Zach Collaros‘ Grey Cup performance? Or has Berg convinced you that it has to be Henry Burrs? Weigh in by commenting and/or tweeting your thoughts to @Fan960Steinberg and @TSN_Marsh.
The winner will be revealed in the next Berg vs. Ferg.