Canadian Football League

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Where are they now? Former Canadian Football League player Ecomet Burley

LA MARQUE — Before he earned his reputation for turning around troubled schools, Ecomet Burley was known for terrorizing opposing offenses on the gridiron.“I was a head-hunter,” Burley said with a big smile on his face.Burley, the new superintendent of La Marque Independent School District, had a dominant career on the football field that saw him become a star in Texas and the Canadian Football League.Red Raider RootsHeading into his senior season at Lufkin High School, Burley was one of the top 100 football recruits in Texas. While not the biggest defensive lineman in the state, he was one of the most explosive players at his position.“My mom kept a box full of letters from schools around the country,” Burley said of the recruiting process. “I was being recruited by schools from the Ivy League, the Southwest Conference and some Big 12 schools. It was a real great experience.”But the more letters Burley received, the more he began to realize Texas Tech was the place for him. “I had so many schools to choose from,” Burley said. “So I prayed and asked God to help me make the right choice. That’s why I ended up at Texas Tech, and it turned out to be a good choice.”It didn’t take long for Burley to make an impact at Texas Tech. He became one of the first Red Raider freshmen to letter in football and was the Most Valuable Lineman in the 1972 Sun Bowl.By the time he was a sophomore, Burley was already an All-Southwest Conference lineman, an honor he received three straight seasons. His senior season, Burley was named a second-team All-American.“I set goals my senior year of high school to be become a college All-American and be one of the best players at my position,” Burley said. “I was fortunate to see all those goals realized while I was at Texas Tech.”His career at Tech eventually earned him a spot in the school’s Hall of Honor.Northern ExposureWhile Burley was a star at defensive tackle for the Red Raiders, he wasn’t the biggest player at the position. That lack of height kept him from being drafted by any National Football League teams following his college career.But Burley wasn’t about to let his dreams of playing professional football end there.“There was no doubt in my mind, that with a little more stature, I could have played in the NFL,” Burley said. “Be that as it may, I decided to go to the Canadian Football League and I had a successful career there.”With a larger playing surface than American football, the CFL featured high-powered spread offenses. CFL rules also made defensive lineman start one yard off the line of scrimmage. Burley was able to use that rule to his advantage.“I ended up having a little space to make a move or two before I came into contact with some of those big lineman,” Burley said. “Because of my size and quickness, that was really good for me.”Burley played in the CFL for six seasons with the Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. His strong play earned him a spot on the Divisional All-Star team in 1981.But feeling a call to the ministry, Burley decided to retire from football at the peak of his career. He went into the ministry for one year, before coming back to the state and getting into education.No RegretsTwenty-two years after his retirement from the game, Burley still uses many of those lessons as an educator.“Any kind of competitive sport teaches you to set goals and develop a plan,” Burley said. “Football teaches you teamwork, sacrifice and learning to go the extra mile. All of those attributes I still use. That’s also what I want to see in our students and workers.”Burley said he loves his job as an educator. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t ever think what life would have been like had he stayed in football.“In some ways, I’ve wonder what it would have been like if I had gone the coaching route,” Burley said. “I was a student of the game when I was playing it. I still watch and study it today. I think I would have been a good coach, but I am pleased with the way my life turned out.”


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