DAVIS: In the end, Darian Durant proved all the doubters wrong

From the moment he joined the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a practice-roster player in 2006, quarterback Darian Durant had a chip on his shoulder. That familiar attitude, honed as inspiration by so many great athletes, of “Don’t tell me what I can’t do. I’ll prove what I can do.”

Through his 12-year playing career and thousands of interviews, he bristled at criticism from fans, media and coaches, using it as motivation as he went from third-stringer to revered, Grey Cup-winning starter to fading star. He may not have been the Roughriders’ best passing quarterback ever, with Henry Burris and early Kent Austin leading that category, or best runner, because Nealon Greene and Kerry Joseph could certainly scamper, but as an all-around package with brains and guts and determination and success and popularity factored in, Durant has to sit atop the group.

It was obvious from the beginning that nobody was going to tell Durant when he couldn’t play football anymore until he announced on his website Friday that an off-field opportunity and the birth of his first child convinced him to retire from the CFL. The announcement surprised the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who reportedly had already paid him a $70,000 contract bonus to be their backup this season. Winnipeg still believed he could play football, even though the Roughriders had given up on him in 2017 and dealt him to the Montreal Alouettes, who cut him after one inglorious season.

It might have been the ultimate “F*** you!” to his doubters, some of whom resided in Saskatchewan. In his retirement announcement, he praised Rider Nation and promised to remain close by establishing a foundation in his name.

Durant learned long ago that if you fawn over Roughrider fans, most of them will fawn over you, especially if you’re playing hard. And especially if you lead the franchise to its most glorious moment, the 2013 Grey Cup victory at home. No quarterback had a better string of games than Durant while leading the Roughriders through that year’s playoffs. His joy was obvious while lifting the Grey Cup aloft at Taylor Field, while he was tearing up and recalling all the disbelievers, all the doubt, all the adversity he had gone through.

Durant was nearly dumped by the Roughriders in 2006, Eric Tillman, general manager at the time, tells a story about rescuing Durant from the airport and reinstating him on the roster after the aspiring quarterback had been cut by then-head coach Danny Barrett. Durant was Saskatchewan’s third-string quarterback by 2007, earning his first Grey Cup ring. With slotback Andy Fantuz not receiving a contract offer and defensive end John Chick retiring in the offseason, Durant was the last remaining CFL player from that ’07 squad.

After earning then losing the starting role (to Michael Bishop!) in 2008, Durant became the undisputed starter and basically led the Roughriders to a championship in 2009, until a too-many-men penalty allowed the Montreal Alouettes to re-kick the game-winning field goal. Montreal again defeated Saskatchewan in the 2010 Grey Cup, fanning the flames of discontent among doubters who didn’t think Durant could win a championship.

Three years later, he proved them wrong.

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.
Darrell Davis
Darrell Davis
About Darrell Davis (119 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.

54 Comments on DAVIS: In the end, Darian Durant proved all the doubters wrong

  1. Great article Durant was a class act and great qb for almost a decade. The picture of him holding the cup high should be his legacy

  2. “if you fawn over Roughrider fans, most of them will fawn over you”
    You said it Darrell.

  3. Whiteout, (aka Blue rules) // May 11, 2018 at 2:50 pm //

    Good luck DD in your future endeavors. Wish we could have had a year or two with you.

  4. What is “fawning”….is that a Sakskatchewn thing?…kinda like giggity giggty ?
    Something they do on Friday nites in winter?

    • Crack a dictionary…..or in your case maybe ask someone that graduated from high school.

      displaying exaggerated flattery or affection; obsequious.
      “fawning adoration”

    • Red and Bo sittin in a tree. // May 11, 2018 at 3:12 pm //

      adjective: fawning
      displaying exaggerated flattery or affection; obsequious

      to stupid to look it up for yourself?
      so instead you post a question trying to ridicule a province, you would know about giggity giggty wouldn’t you?

      • thanks for the clarification I just wanted someone else to do the work for me…it worked!

        • Kenny M // May 11, 2018 at 6:04 pm //

          No, you appear to be that simple and unfunny st the same time. Your knee-jerk reaction to a legitimate word cannot be ignored in your post.

      • and once Duron Carter signed with the only team on earth who would sign him, Dad had his team look into the situation and quickly discovered a little fawning by Duron will have the locals eating out of his hand. There would be no need for a fall guy.
        1 and a half years later, look at the result. The guy has 2 charges against him and rider fans would rather see our own border security in jail rather ahead of Duron.

  5. Danny Barrett got it right in 2006 cutting durant., bang on back then. Chris Jones 2017 also got it right thank goodness, in his player evaluation assessment_ the bum was a vastly overpaided (by a previous clueless organization regime, hop son, ta man, oh day) burnout with no professional football skillset whatsoever, (see Montreal Alouettes 2017 season), enough said.

  6. Kenny M // May 11, 2018 at 3:35 pm //

    This article is a complete joke. Durant was neither a quarterback superstar or the sole reason the team won the 2013 Grey Cup. His antics off the field were self-serving and childish at times. The Riders paid too much for a journeyman QB and labeled him a legend along the way. I was happy to see him leave the team and now I am happy to see him leave the league because he took money for a contract and failed to return 70k in the bargain. How is that for an exit from the league?

    • Itzgodzilla // May 11, 2018 at 9:39 pm //

      Say what you want,Durant’s main gift was his ability to grit his teeth and make the play to turn the tide of a losing game. He did it time and again to somehow fire the team back up and elevate everyone else play also. No one wins a championship alone, but individuals can push the team to win championships. He may not have been the best, but he was a lion on the field when he played for the Riders.

    • True green // May 12, 2018 at 12:27 am //

      THe only joke here is you. I copied this from another article. Not my work putting this together. Credit goes to Area 51. Quote:

      Durant’s legendary performance in the 2013 playoffs was the greatest postseason performance in the history of pro football.

      In the WSF especially, Durant put the team on his back and carried them. Without that, they never get past BC.

      Go back and watch the games again and take a look at what he did in that three game championship run:

      60/77 for a 77.9% completion rate
      795 yards passing
      8 passing TDs
      0 INTs
      17 carries for 141 rushing yards

      Always loved how Durant worse shirtsleeves in those games despite the brutally cold temperatures in WSF at home and the WDF in Calgary.

      A true warrior and an all time legend for delivering the championship in Regina.

    • Agree totally!!!! GO RIDERS GO…..Canada’s Team…

  7. Wow – Lancaster doesn’t crack the top 5 of all-time Rider QBs?

  8. solara2000 // May 11, 2018 at 4:11 pm //

    Gee, I seem to remember a QB who transformed the Riders. Some guy name Ronnie. I thought he would have Ronnie (what was his last name again? )”…. sit atop the group” to quote Mr Davis. .

  9. How will he explain his theft of 70 grand, to his child?

    • Has he been charged with theft over $5K? Then shut up and leave is his children out of it. Man you are so hate filled. Do you have kids that we can all drag into comments?

    • How did you explain to your sisters kids that you are their dad?

  10. Rider4life // May 11, 2018 at 4:38 pm //

    Hey Mr red lmao did Mo price pay bk 30 thousand as he was under cintracrbwith riders when he said hevwaz retiring just before preseason NOPE

    • Are you drunk already?

      • Puck Hog // May 12, 2018 at 1:10 am //

        Why don’t you spout off on cflhorsemen? Oooops…..lol……forgot that everyone in Calgary is annoyed by you, too. Now shut up………

    • Actually, it was 80k unless i have him mixed up with somebody else who dinged them for 80K

  11. Mr hemorRED // May 11, 2018 at 4:51 pm //

    Roy Finch will have to explain why he assaulted the fine men and women of law enforcement. Word has it he used his bonus money to help post bail so he wasn’t traded for smokes.

    • word said did it???
      Did word also say he’s in a special program (thanks to the Flames influence to minor hockey in the area) He will complete the program and be back in July. This is what happens when you are a very wealthy corporation and not a Mom & Pop shop.

      • Mr hemorRED // May 11, 2018 at 5:09 pm //

        He completed 2 programs. Cops and Live PD.

        Keep him away from Ken Newens and that cheap scotch.

      • riderontheisland // May 11, 2018 at 5:34 pm //

        What so the Stumps rich big brother bought him a get out of jail free card. Ya love when criminals get off because of crooks in the oil industry grease palms. Ya that’s something to be proud of. Says a lot about you Red! And you are bragging about it. I guess there are no “High Roads” in Calgary.

        • yeah I’m sure someone living on hippie island would take such a stance against oil. How’s David Suzuki? Still avoiding debates from the oil proponents?

          • riderontheisland // May 11, 2018 at 6:00 pm //

            Is that all you got!!!! A man who doesn’t waste time debating fiction!!!hahaha, oh well guess what, your pipeline aint coming through so chew on that for a while. I guess Edwards lining the pockets of the BC Liberals for years didn’t pay off after all. I know our priorities are in order, so call whatever you like. BTW we will protect “Hippie Island” all the way and fight the greed from the east.

        • So obviously you you are retired. What did you do for a living?
          lol only a hippie would think Alberta bribed the BC liberals.
          Unfortunately my friend, you live in the past, if you went home to Sask you’d discover things are different, the next generation realized your mistakes of the NDP cycle wasn’t getting the province anywhere.

          • riderontheisland // May 11, 2018 at 6:39 pm //

            Not retired and still a middle aged working man. So you are saying that Edwards didn’t contribute several hundreds of thousands of dollars to Clark campaigns? The only thing they had in common was the desire for the KM Pipeline to happen. Good thing we got rid of her cause more oil traffic would damage our tourism industry.

        • You know whats funny riderontheisland.
          You don’t know what the issue is. This entire effort has nothing to do with the environment. If it did, BC would clean up it’s act on water pollution (worst in Canada) and stop selling coal to Asian markets.
          The fact is, this is the effort of US organizations to limit the market place for Canadian oil to the states, where they benefit from a greatly reduced price. You are the pawn in that game and don’t realize your manipulated self serves to do nothing but harm the Canadian and BC economy.

          How are you enjoying gas prices? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

          • riderontheisland // May 14, 2018 at 10:41 am //

            so your history of making up your own facts continue. enough said, good bye!

  12. Mr Curling // May 11, 2018 at 4:55 pm //

    Mr Curling still wears a Durant Rider Jersey to games, one of Mr Curlings all time favorites along with Rhett Dawson, Jeff Fairholm and Jack Abendschan. Durant was at his best late in games when you absolutely had to have a first down and he could just will it to be done(before the season ending injuries) too bad the denouement is what everyone seems to remember

  13. Roy Finch is less of an embarrassment than Red.

  14. Phil Miller // May 11, 2018 at 6:33 pm //

    Well written Darrell. Thank you.

  15. BIG Red // May 11, 2018 at 7:38 pm //

    I’m just glad Mr Everything Chris Jones seen through this mediocre guy and kicked his a** to the curb.

    In Jones We Trust

  16. Margaret Marshall // May 11, 2018 at 8:29 pm //

    Durant captured lightning in a bottle and provided Riderville with many memorable moments. He remains the face of the 2013 Grey Cup. He deserves appreciation for his contribution to that magical season. He did the best he could with the gifts he possessed. He wasn’t the best but he was there at the right time and did the right things when it counted. And that counts for something. All the best Darian.

  17. Scottsask // May 11, 2018 at 9:31 pm //

    Durant was incredible in 2013, he also had Kory Sheets in his backfield, that didn’t hurt either.

  18. Take this // May 12, 2018 at 1:20 am //

    If you are actually a Rider fan, how could you say that Durant should have been cut in 2006? You didn’t want the Riders to go to the Grey Cup in 2009 and 2010? You didn’t want the Riders to win the Grey Cup in 2013? Either you aren’t actually a Rider fan or you never watched the games, particularly the 2013 playoff run, or you know very little about football. Go back and watch some games from those years. Even fans of other teams with some football knowledge admit that Durant in 2013 was a talented, classy, determined warrior. And yet you wish Durant would have been cut before those winning seasons. Go figure. The self proclaimed “best fans in the CFL” would deny the talent of a quarterback who led them in one of the few good streaks that the Riders have had over a time span of more then 100 years. Durant took the Riders to three Grey Cups in five years, won one, and one loss was certainly no fault of Doubles. But Durant was a bum, you say? Huh! A lot of teams would sure like to have a bum in his prime like that. In a performance based league, it don’t get much better then that. Did someone tell you to hate Durant or did you come up with that all by yourself? Hold on to your hopes because with the Rider’s history, it could be another twenty or thirty years (or more) before the Riders find another quarterback that will take them to three Grey Cups in five years. I believe in more then 100 years, the Riders have only played in 19 Grey Cup games. Durant was the starter in three of those. Too bad he was a bum.

  19. Kory Sheets MVP won 2013 Grey Cup Championship single handedly carrying the “Roughriders team” on his back.

  20. Take this // May 12, 2018 at 7:33 pm //

    Big Ed: here we are again. Go back and watch the three game playoff run and you will see the most dominant play by a quarterback that the CFL has ever seen. Sheets was tremendous in the Grey Cup game but Durant was awsum in all three games. Face reality or keep believing in Jones. The bigger you are, the harder you will fall.

  21. i never thought anything of substance would come from the paranoid red, but he is right about agitators paid by us oil interests, to keep the price of cdn oil down. BUT, WHY, AND HOW, DID POLITICS ENTER THIS SITE? We can get enough of that stuff elsewhere.

  22. hey, take this….remember that the West was not invited to partake in the Grey Cup for decades….can’t win if you aren’t allowed to play

    • Take this // May 13, 2018 at 12:05 am //

      Very true. It does remain though that the Riders have only appeared in 19 Grey Cups and Durant was the starter for three of them.

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