Davis: Darian Durant’s return to Saskatchewan was both contrived & earnest

Veteran quarterback Darian Durant got his video tribute from the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the thing sports franchises use to say, “We didn’t want you anymore, but hey, welcome back.”

Forgive the cynicism accumulated through 36 years of sports-writing, but although this is becoming de rigueur in some pro sports leagues, it seems hypocritical for teams to fete any returning players, particularly if the parting wasn’t particularly amicable.

But the minute-plus video montage, played on the massive scoreboard, showed some career highlights capped by a cup-carrying Durant and the message “Thank you, Doubles.” It was well-received by its subject, who admitted to being emotional, and the crowd at Friday’s CFL game inside Mosaic Stadium, who gave him a standing ovation. And when it’s all said and done, the event was an opportunity for the fans and the quarterback to show their affection for each other, even though there will be future opportunities such as his induction into the Roughriders’ Plaza of Honour.

When Durant departed Saskatchewan via a January trade after 11 seasons, including two Grey Cup victories and two other appearances while becoming the team’s second-leading passer behind Hall of Famer Ron Lancaster, he was reeling from his dealings with general manager/head coach/vice-president of football operations Chris Jones. In contract negotiations, Durant had been offered a substantial pay cut and been described by Jones as “moderately successful” during his time in Saskatchewan.

Obviously, the contract was never signed. Durant was dispatched to the Montreal Alouettes for a couple of draft picks. The scenario was re-hashed before the season-opener, when the Roughriders visited Montreal and lost 17-16. Rider fans were upset about Durant’s exuberant post-game celebration when he evidently barked in Jones’ direction and declared the “football gods” were on his side.

Four months later, before his long-awaited debut at Saskatchewan’s brand-new ballpark, Durant admitted he got too emotional following the season-opening victory. As the Roughriders kept improving for their first playoff appearance in three years, the Alouettes had self-destructed, were on a nine-game losing streak. Durant said he was looking forward to playing in Mosaic Stadium and expecting plaudits from the fans. Once again there were some fans aghast at Durant’s perceived lack of humility.

What Durant accomplished with the Roughriders was really quite remarkable. Lancaster, Kent Austin, Kerry Joseph and Durant are the only quarterbacks to lead the team to a Grey Cup victory. And Durant, who was a third-stringer in 2007 and the starter in 2013, is the only pivot with two championship rings. At 35 he may be on his last legs, although he insisted after Friday’s game that there’s “lots of football” left inside him.

He didn’t play particularly well in Montreal’s 37-12 loss, a team record 10th straight defeat. On a chilly night Durant completed nine of 20 passes for 126 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He suffered an apparent knee injury after being sacked by A.C. Leonard, but finished the second quarter before changing into street clothes, hanging out on the Als bench, and being replaced in the second half by rookie Matt Shiltz.

After the game ended, Durant — who is expecting his first child in January and still has a residence in Regina — stopped to visit and exchange pleasantries with numerous fans. That was the most sincere part.

Darrell Davis

Darrell Davis

Darrell Davis has reported on the Riders for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2006.
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Darrell Davis
About Darrell Davis (98 Articles)
Darrell Davis has reported on the Riders for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2006.

42 Comments on Davis: Darian Durant’s return to Saskatchewan was both contrived & earnest

  1. colour me green // October 29, 2017 at 9:44 pm //

    Funny how many football players live in Regina in the off season and after thier careers are over. Some who never played here.

  2. Nothing unusual about players making the city they play/played for, home. Happens all over Canada.

  3. Do you really think that it’s different than what happens in other cities throughout the CFL? You may see them more because of the smaller population but lots of players stay in Canada, often in one of the cities they played.

  4. Maybe he can’t sell his house with potash prices in the dumps

    • 3rd and 1 // October 30, 2017 at 8:29 am //

      Nice try disguised Donkey Dave. Darian has a nice Condo is a great complex in a newer Sourh End area. Several realtors purchased in that complex because it’s a sure thing. When a condo gets listed in that complex it sells within the 1st Month.
      Your use to seeing the sad state of affairs in Alberta. Where most of Albertans higher end automobiles are now owned by residents of BC and SK. But hey you guys are so smart you all voted in a socialist Provincial Government. They will make sure you grow and get out of the deepest debt Alberta has ever had. Socialist Governments are great at capitalizing and seizing the moment. LOL ya right…. Man your Province is so deep in crap that all the NDP can do is tax your air and drive your citizens even further into debt.
      Once SK Premier Brad Wall steps down in the next 6 Months. He should move to Alberta. He’s 10 times more popular in Alberta than any Alberta politician is. Have fun with your NDP Government that have done no economical studies on Carbon tax. Instead they are in love with the Feds tax so they can get their share. I’d hate to be an Alberta right now. Nothing like getting kicked in the teeth when your down.

      • Houses on my block sell within a week, never mind a month, lol. Brad Wall will move to Fort McMurray for a real paying job. Hows Colin Thatcher doing, is he out of jail yet? Saskabush politics is the lowest. Keep trying Turd and one, maybe you won’t miss next time.

        • Lancaster/Reed // October 30, 2017 at 9:48 am //

          Dave you idiot. Why do we need to talk about colin thatcher when talking about SK politics? . Itslike saying when talking about alberta residents, we need to mention the alberta kkk in the 20s or mayorthorpe, ( given mayorthorpes location, they must have bee esks fans.) At least donkeys trolling is occasionally on point, and not completely irrelevant.

  5. The only thing contrived is douchebag Darrell’s assumptions. You should put yourself out to pasture.

  6. Funny, I remember reading that the Rider’s offer gave Durant an opportunity to earn even more than the Durant camp was asking. But it wasnt guaranteed, he had to play and perform to get it.

    • I’ve read articles suggesting that the Riders offered him $300,000 with $100,000 in playing incentives, whereas the Alouettes gave him a $400,000 2yr contract with a $225,000 signing bonus. Given his injury history I think he was offered a fair deal to stay in Saskatchewan but his pride got in the way. Given how this year turned out Chris Jones’s position was the right one.

      • Lancaster/Reed // October 30, 2017 at 12:10 pm //

        I heard similar figures, although i think the guaranteed money was lower (200-250k) and performance money was 150-200k. And jones definitely made the right call.

  7. Lancaster/Reed // October 30, 2017 at 1:21 am //

    Davis is one crusty s.o.b. He dislikes chris jones so much , its like reading a donkey post sometimes.

  8. Sources Say // October 30, 2017 at 1:34 am //

    Lots of people dislike Jones. As quick as everybody that wanted to saw the new stadium the sellouts have ceased. They don’t feel comfortable supporting Jones.

    • Lancaster/Reed // October 30, 2017 at 2:10 am //

      Your sources dont know anything. 2 games havent been sellouts, both eastern opponents, but the ottawa game 2 weeks ago was one of the sellouts. And the edmonton game next saturday will most definitely be a sellout.

    • 3rd and 1 // October 30, 2017 at 8:40 am //

      Sorry dude but 8:00PM games on a Thursday or Friday night late Oct in SK is the worst scheduling the CFL could have done. It was brought up to Commissioner Orridge but his response was deal with it. So they did deal with it. As well with all of the other idiotic moves Orridge made. They also dealt with his incompetence and forced him to resign.
      Approx 20% of Rider game fans are from out of town. Some travel as much as 4 hours to get to a game. So with an 8PM start then leave Regina after a windy cold game and get home around at 3AM… Nope, you are going to lose the attendance of your out of town fans. Many will make that once during the summer. Not late fall they won’t.
      So… nice try. It has nothing to do with the Coach. Most Rider fans love the [=S=] and like the players. Besides as long as the team is wining. It dosent matter what coach or player is around.

      • Now put an NHL team in lil Regina to make the riders compete for their fan base and there would be zero sellouts, as a matter of fact the stadium would not exist.

        • Lancaster/Reed // October 30, 2017 at 11:52 am //

          How about reduce edmontons population to regina size, take away the oilers, and see if they can draw 20,000 to a game?

    • Lancaster/Reed // October 30, 2017 at 8:47 am //

      You are right about one thing. Lots of people dislike jones. And most of those people are eskimo and stamp fans.

  9. greenonions // October 30, 2017 at 1:36 am //

    Nik Lewis announced his retirement today & said he’s starting a business in Texas. Also interested in coaching or broadcasting. Residing in Regina?? I find that iffy.

    • Lancaster/Reed // October 30, 2017 at 1:43 am //

      Just did a little research and found a national post article from last year about nik lewis saying they talked to him in his adopted hometown , Regina. So i guess what i heard is true.

  10. Lancaster/Reed // October 30, 2017 at 1:59 am //

    Is wasnt as contrived as the league wanted it to be. They wanted darian and montreal to be the first regular season game played at new mosaic, but the riders vetoed that.

  11. Marc Lebut // October 30, 2017 at 10:12 am //

    Durant played this game just as he’s all season long played for the Alouettes. Poorly, making mistakes on his own. He’s not the solution for the Alouettes and I hope he can live happy in Regina all of 2018, and more. I’ve always enjoyed talking with the Roughriders fans in Montréal, so I believe Durant stays in Saskatchewan for a good reason.

  12. greenonions // October 30, 2017 at 11:39 am //

    If he married a Regina girl then that makes sense. But that’s not unusual. I have a very good friend who works in Regina & loves it there. Likely will finish his career there in another 10 years or so. But I know they won’t stay there – have 2 grown sons in Alberta. Most of the time reasons outside of the city itself determine where they want to stay. The CFL has 9 cities with lots to offer & I know most of them have strong alumni of ex-CFL’ers who are very active in the community.

    • Lancaster/Reed // October 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm //

      No its not unusual for ex cflers to stay in a city the played for. They have to live somewhere, and many of them have started off season careers in those cities before retiring. I think there is an extra sense of pride when americans decide to stay in canada, rather than returning to the states.

  13. Blue Rules // October 30, 2017 at 1:15 pm //

    @ 3/1 – L/R – Dave. WOW I’m going to bolg on the Financial Post to talk sports. Potash,oil, population,housing market, income, Politics, marriage…… Stop fighting, man up “hug it out”

  14. This thread gave me a headache.

    GoBlue

  15. In reference to the non sellouts I travel about 6 hours to Rider games so it is basically impossible for me to attend week night games. It doesn’t affect the sellout though as I have seasons tickets. In case anyone is wondering, I drive from Calgary to Regina. Once a Rider fan, always a Rider fan.

    • Lancaster/Reed // October 30, 2017 at 2:38 pm //

      6 hours calgary to regina? Something tells me you are not obeying the posted speed limit.

  16. Ron Bates // October 30, 2017 at 6:41 pm //

    It seems many fans are mystified at the organization of the season with it’s (cost saving?) short two week training camp! Resulting in detail men to make excuses about the generally poor play as teams try to get fit and ready as just the CFL’s late season shape up! As for this dilemma about process and learning by teaching and standing back to see if U schooled players and pros need reeducation! Well I see decline of most attendance and dollars. As a Eskimo writer noted it still is twice as much as Toronto!

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