OTTAWA — A lot of things have happened since the last time a team from Ottawa made an appearance in the Grey Cup including the birth of every player on the Redblacks, save one.
"I bet I know who that is," said Redblacks receiver Brad Sinopoli, who played quarterback for the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, playing on the same field the Redblacks beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 35-28 Sunday to earn a trip to Winnipeg and the 103rd Grey Cup.
Henry Burris, who was six years old when the Ottawa Rough Riders fell 26-23 to the Edmonton Eskimos in the 1981 Grey Cup, had a career year for the Redblacks setting multiple personal and league records at the age of 40.
"It's an honour for us to be able to deliver this and to see the excitement from the fans," said Burris. "To see the support we've been getting all year long, we have the best fan support in the league. Even last year when we had our struggles the stands were always sold out. Today was extra special.'
Burris connected with Greg Ellingson for a 93-yard catch and run touchdown to give the Redblacks a 35-28 lead with under two minutes to go.
Ellingson was born seven years after the Ottawa Rough Riders' last Grey Cup appearance. On Sunday he had five catches for 187 yards and the biggest touchdown of his career.
"It's been a career year for him. He's 40 years old and it's one of the best seasons he's ever had," said Ellingson of Burris. "To have a quarterback producing like that and putting the ball where it needs to go is going to help you win games.
"It's unreal. It's been over 30 years (since a Grey Cup berth) and to win in the fashion we did is a testament to this team. It's special. We're building something here and it's been unreal."
It's been 34 years since that Grey Cup appearance. Redblacks coach Rick Campbell watched that game on television from his home in Edmonton as his father, Hugh Campbell, coached the Eskimos to the win despite trailing 20-1 at the half.
His allegiance will be a little different this time.
"I was only 10 and I'll be rooting for the Ottawa team this time. I wasn't last time but I will be this time," Campbell said.
"I'm proud of the players and the fans and the city and it's a pretty cool deal when you think about it. I know it's a big deal, but there is one more game."
There is one more game, and no matter what happens, the fact remains the Redblacks were 2-16 in their first season one year ago. They went 12-6 during the 2015 regular season and are now off to the Grey Cup.
"The Calvillos and the Allens and the Ricky Rays , one thing they can't say is the fact that they've been able to turn an organization around from scratch. It's been an honour for me to play against those guys, but to be able to turn an expansion franchise around in two years an make a Grey Cup is unheard of," Burris said.
"The city has waited so long for this type of success and to be part of the group that's delivering it is a dream come true."
Darren Desaulniers, The Canadian Press