Riders grudgingly confirm Durant’s torn Achilles


Darian Durant’s comeback season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders ended half-way through the CFL team’s first game.

On a seemingly innocent play, the veteran quarterback stepped into a pass and, without being seriously touched by anyone, recoiled on his left foot. Ruptured Achilles tendon. Anyone who plays or watches sports at a serious level knows that injury, that 2-3 decades ago it would have been career-ending and now, with the advances in surgery, still requires at least six months of rehabilitation.

Speculation immediately began circulating throughout Mosaic Stadium after the fans saw Durant’s ankle flop downwards on the giant replay screens.

Durant slumped to the turf after summoning the team’s knowledgeable training staff on-field, where the trainers certainly realized the severity of the injury and told head coach Corey Chamblin, who in turn relayed the information to assistant general manager Jeremy O’Day, whose eyes grew wide with the news.

Durant was next seen by fans on crutches, wearing a protective boot on his left foot, before leaving the stadium. Social media exploded: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and texts relayed the bad news, wondering whether Durant’s career was over and who the team should summon to bolster its quarterback stable.

The Roughriders continued Saturday’s game with veteran Kevin Glenn playing quarterback. Glenn played OK as the Roughriders lost 30-26 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Glenn was a free-agent signee in the off-season, acquired specifically because the Roughriders had bombed badly in 2014 with quarterbacks Tino Sunseri, Seth Doege and Kerry Joseph replacing Durant after he suffered a torn right elbow ligament during a game in September. Durant did all the rehabilitation required, came back seemingly healthy, and was positively glowing about playing again in the season opener against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Fittingly, glumness engulfed Mosaic Stadium after Durant’s injury as a cheerful halftime tribute honored Jim Hopson, the former CEO/president who retired a month ago after 10 years of building the Roughriders into the league’s most successful franchise.

After Blue Bombers quarterback Drew Willy, a former Riders pivot who afterwards spoke sadly about Durant’s fate, and tailback Paris Cotton shredded Saskatchewan’s defence, everyone wanted to know what happened to the home team’s franchise player. Chamblin told the assembled media during the traditional post-game recaps that he would be meeting right afterwards with the team’s medical staff, that the media could have fun speculating about Durant’s injury and the Riders would likely provide an update two days later.

About 15 minutes later, just after the real and mainstream media had left, the Roughriders sent out the bad news on Twitter. A day later on their rah-rah website, a site where readers get absolutely zero bad news about their favorite football team, there wasn’t even a story focusing on Durant’s injury. But the team’s Twitter account did proclaim that Durant’s 2015 season was over because of a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Sadly, at least it’s now official.

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.