It’s a game that’s been circled on the calendar since the CFL schedule was announced a number of months ago.
For the first time in his CFL career, Darian Durant will be a starting quarterback in Saskatchewan for the other team as the Alouettes make their first appearance at the new Mosaic Stadium. While the season hasn’t gone the way Durant would have wanted, it’s still surely to be an interesting evening for both Durant and the province.
What Durant deserves on Friday evening is nothing short of a huge standing ovation. What Durant accomplished in Saskatchewan can never be taken away from him. He’s one of four starting quarterbacks to win a Grey Cup in Rider history. Durant also led the team to the Grey Cup on two previous occasions. As it stands, Durant sits second all-time in Rider history in passing yards, pass attempts, completions and he’s third in career touchdowns. If not for season ending injuries he suffered in 2014 and 2015, Durant’s numbers would be even better and he very likely would have surpassed Kent Austin for second all-time in career touchdowns.
It’s not a stretch to say that Durant might be the team’s second best quarterback ever after Ron Lancaster.
Despite all of this, it’s become clear that Chris Jones made the right decision to move on from Durant. The Riders offence has had it’s ups and downs this season but Kevin Glenn and Brandon Bridge have been able to do what is asked of them for the most part. Based on his season, it’s hard to suggest that Durant would be able to perform better than either quarterback. When you consider he would likely cost more than both pivots combined, it’s hard to justify spending the money. The open cap spaces has allowed Jones to fill out the roster with more talent, helping out his quarterbacks. Tough, unpopular decisions are needed in football, and it’s possible they can backfire, but Jones made a decision that was ultimately best for the football team.
Some fans were a little upset with Durant when he celebrated the Als opening win of the season over his former team. Sure, things haven’t gone his way since that game, but I completely understand the emotions in the moment. Especially for a man who hasn’t won a lot of football games over the last couple of years. There also might be some hard feelings because Durant didn’t bend on his contract demands. Neither did Jones and neither were wrong for it. That’s just the business of sports.
None of this changes what Durant accomplished here. Football can be a heartless business but there is an opportunity for the province to say thanks to the man known as Doubles for everything he has done on and off the field. Durant will eventually end up in the Riders Plaza of Honour whenever his career ends. I do hope that it’s not any time soon, as I think Durant deserves to have at least one more good season before he hangs it up.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Durant during his time in Saskatchewan, he’s had his share of haters, hopefully they keep to themselves on Friday night.