Saskatchewan Roughriders’ legend Darian Durant joined current quarterbacks Cody Fajardo and Isaac Harker on their “The Rouge Report” podcast for a gathering of green and white pivots.
The group spoke about Durant’s failures as an NCAA punter, the loaded practice squad of the mid-2000s Riders, his departure from the prairie province, and the joy of winning a Grey Cup. It was all shared in an enjoyable interview that qualifies as must-listen content for Rider fans. During the conversation, Durant divulged that his CFL success almost never occurred.
“It was rough the first three years,” Durant said of his early days as a backup in Regina. “I enjoyed the learning process but I felt I could go in there and just make it happen.”
That frustration led to a big life decision after a disappointing 2006 season.
“I actually quit at the end of the 2006 season. I said I’m going home,” admitted Durant. “I was on the practice roster to start the season until like Week 6, then I dressed for a couple games, then they put me back on the practice roster.”
“I had never sat in my life. Being immature, I just decided to go home.”
What prevented the alternate reality in which Durant never leads the Riders to back-to-back Grey Cup appearances in 2009 and 2010, then brings home a ring for the province in 2013?
“Eric Tillman came and told me they saw potential in me,” the pivot explained. “I’m glad he did because I was ready to give it up right then.”
The Riders won the Grey Cup behind CFL MOP Kerry Joseph in 2007 and Durant took over in 2008. Despite his desire to play, actually getting the starting job was less satisfying than he might have expected.
“I was mixed emotionally,” said Durant. “I looked at Kerry Joseph as a mentor. He went out of his way to teach me the game.”
As for when Durant finally did quit the game, his highly publicized retirement following a signing bonus from Winnipeg was touched upon. Durant said he had actually intended to play for the Bombers, but it didn’t feel right in the end and he wasn’t willing to accept a backup role.
“Teams always cut players before they are due money, so I don’t understand why fans overreact when a player does it back,” Durant said defensively.
Fajardo said what many players also believe.
“I want to thank you for being one of the first players to really stick it to a team,” the current franchise pivot said, “because usually we are the ones getting the stick.”