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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

DURANT SPEAKS AT MARKS CFL WEEK

The first photo of Darian Durant in a Montreal uniform at CFL Week
Darian Durant has moved on from a football perspective. Closing the door on 11 years worth of personal memories hasn't been quite so easy.

The veteran quarterback is back in Regina for CFL Week, just over two months after Saskatchewan dealt his rights to Montreal. Not long after, Durant, 34, signed a three-year deal with the Alouettes, officially closing the door on his 11-year tenure with the Roughriders.

"I've had some time, a good amount of time, to wrap my mind around the change and I'm comfortable with it,'' Durant said Wednesday. "It's good being around my new teammates this week and I'm excited.''

What's been tougher, though, has been cleaning out his Regina-based home.

"More than anything, the toughest part is when you look at all the memorabilia,'' he said. "Having to pack all that stuff up and get rid of it is tough.

"This place has meant so much to me over the past 11 years, I've spent almost a third of my life here in Saskatchewan. It's definitely not easy leaving but I am excited about what's ahead.''

Durant appeared in 157 career regular-season games with the Riders, earning Grey Cup rings in 2007 and '13. The first came as a backup but Durant was a key figure in leading Saskatchewan to its convincing 45-23 win over Hamilton at Mosaic Stadium for his second.

Durant amassed a 58-54-1 record in 113 career regular-season starts and stands second in club history in pass attempts (3,519), completions (2,186) and yards (28,136) and third in TD strikes (149). But Durant was also a fan favourite because of his approachable nature and countless hours spent in the community.

"Being somewhere for 11 years is defying the odds in itself,'' he said. ``I am truly thankful for that.

"Being somewhere where football is so special just gave me an appreciation for the career I have ... it's really helped me mature and become a better man and appreciate the things that life has to offer. I'll forever be grateful.''

However, Durant's departure from Regina wasn't without some angst.

In November, Riders head coach/GM Chris Jones publicly referred to Durant as "moderately successful.'' Then when asked about trading the 'face of the franchise,' Jones replied matter of factly. 'Well, we won five ball games last year, with Darian - so that's reality.'

Durant maintains Jones is certainly entitled to his opinion but wishes the situation was handled better.

"After 11 years and all I've done for that team, that community ... I expected or would've liked a simple, 'It's time to part ways.' or something of that nature,'' Durant said. "No doubt, I felt it got personal.

"I just didn't think I deserved that.''

Durant joins a Montreal team that's been looking for a bona fide starter since Anthony Calvillo - currently its quarterbacks coach - retired following the 2013 season. The Alouettes finished tied for second in the East Division last year (7-11) with Hamilton but missed the CFL playoffs after losing the season series with the Tiger-Cats.

Durant should have no shortage of receiving weapons with veteran slotback Nik Lewis (102 catches, 1,136 yards, three TDs), the healthy return of S.J. Green and off-season addition of Ernest Jackson, who scored the game-winning TD in Ottawa's thrilling 39-33 overtime Grey Cup win over Calgary in November.

"Oh my goodness, the pieces are in place in my opinion,'' Durant said. "On paper we look great.

"It's all about staying healthy and putting the work in and developing chemistry. We have some weapons that if we can all put in the work and do what's necessary, we can make a great run.''

After suffering season-ending injuries in 2014 and '15, Durant made 15 starts in 2016, completing 66.5 per cent of his passes for 3,839 yards with 14 TDs and just seven interceptions. For the first time in three years, Durant's off-season is about preparation, not injury rehab.

"I'm stronger than I've ever been, I'm in great shape,'' he said. "I can't wait to get started.''

(Canadian Press)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are in my heart forever Darian. I wouldn't let Chris Jones in my yard.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, the pieces are in place in my opinion I say. Saskatchewan Roughriders good to go 2017. On the field of play across the league, we are the greatest. No one comes close. Thank you Mr Jones, Mr. Murphy.

Sask. Riderland spokesperson.

Anonymous said...

Looooooking Good!

Anonymous said...

He was very humble on his return, good guy.

Anonymous said...

Except at the qb position.

3RD and 1 said...

I am a Darian Durant fan. I was a Jones fan pre 2016 season. Now with Jones I'm a wait and see fan. 2017 is a make or break season. Hope we do well.
With that being said I seem to remember Darian taking the first turn in the media which lead to the contract negotiations becoming personal. Correct me if I'm wrong but Darian started using dollar figures with the media. To which Jones replied he preferred to keep that out of the media. By then it was too late and the snow ball effect had already started. Then it just got ugly.

Anonymous said...

Nothing but respect for Darian and he is obviously hurting a bit still but his job like everyone else's is not a forever thing. I wish Darian all the best and hopefully he will return to Saskatchewan in some capacity down the road. It seems that when drastic changes need to be made the cuts are deep and can seem very cruel. Perhaps Chris Jones hard nosed personality made it seem even harsher than it should have but it happens all the time. If a big business wants to make cuts there is no concern about hurt feelings, it's clean your desk out and goodbye. The decision to trade Darian would have been made based on his performance last year, his health, his age and the big one, the money. Thankfully for the most part players are well taken care of and for many years Darian was protected and treated well. All the best to you Darian, I'm sure you will have a fantastic first game against us and Iknow you will get a standing ovation when you step on the field.

Anonymous said...

DURANT SPEAKS AT MARKS CFL WEEK
MAKES AND TURNS EVENT INTO DEBBIE DOWNER ONTO SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS FOOTBALL CLUB WITH HIS PERSONAL COMMENTS !

KUDOS OUT TO SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS FOOTBALL CLUB FOR WECOMINING/HOSTING ALL TO A EXCELLENT WELL ORGANISED EVENT. THANKS TO ALL FOR MAKING IT HAPPEN !

Anonymous said...

Still feel bad for DD with the way Jones treated him but I wish him all the best in Montreal. He is right. Jones had no use for DD from day 1. 2017 is going to be a make or break season for Jones. Fail again and he needs to be gone and failing is missing the playoffs. I know it will cost the team a bunch of money to get rid of him but continuing with a losing team isn't doing much for the old bank account either.

Anonymous said...

I'd put money on Durant winning a grey Cup before a Jones-led Rider will.

Anonymous said...

You never hear the true consumate professional athlete like Mr John Chick babling, whining front page sports reports both television medium or local front page sports page LP/other putting down his former team. - Darian Durant_ the CFLeague should fine him immediately for unbecoming negative comments during what is a very positive Marks CFL WEEK event Regina Saskatchewan. Guess he just doesn't get it or understand pro sports is a business. He needs to move on and shut the hell up already. He's now a Montreal Alouette, quit crying, got your money, go rehab yourself, get ready to play 2017 as your payed to do.

Anonymous said...

Darian is being asked questions by the media, and hes answering them honestly.

I 100% agree with him and am glad to hear from him. Jones low balled him and used some nasty negotiating tactics and Durant deserved better. Plain and simple.

Until Jones produces a true, long term option at qb, the Durant talk will not go away. Based on his ridiculous approach to the QB position so far this offseason - I suggest you get used to it.

Anonymous said...

Darian Durant go home! You now belong to Quebec. Saskatchewan doesn't need your worthless 2cent comments.

"In Jones We Trust"