Darin Burns wants to prove that old man strength isn’t a myth — and he wants to do it on a CFL field.
You might remember Burns from this article back in December. The retired CFL defensive lineman underwent a weight loss transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, losing twelve inches off his waist and hitting the gym for the first time in years.
Burns eventually set a goal of suiting up for the Moncton Mustangs of the Maritime Football League. The last time he played football was for the Mustangs in 2010 at the age of 46.
“I’m stronger now than I was when I played,” said Burns on The Rod Pedersen Show. “The speed’s there, the strength’s there. It’s like the fountain of youth we found.”
Burns measures in at six-foot-four and 300 pounds with a 35-inch waist. He can do 22 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press and recently ran a laser-timed 5.2 forty-yard dash, which are comparable numbers to many CFL draft prospects.
“I’ve had a few alumni guys say, ‘I wish I could do what you’re doing, Burnsy [sic], but my wife would kill me,'” said Burns. “It’s a goal. I’m very much goal-oriented — my whole life has been like that. ”
Burns has overcome tremendous hardships in his life. Raised in group homes and a survivor of abuse, he was mentored by longtime CFL defensive lineman Bruce Smith.
Smith died of pancreatic cancer in 2013, which Burns says is a loss he’s still coping with eight years later.
“For me, this has been a therapeutic journey to get out on the field, do this one last hurrah. It’s something that I personally need to do. It’s a healing process. I’ve got a really good team of support behind me,” said Burns.
“Whenever I do something in Bruce’s name, I always come through. Anyone who knows me knows my relationship with Bruce. I’m not going to fail at this.”
The father of five knows that he won’t be playing a full season of professional football in 2021, but wants a chance to be in a CFL training camp. He ideally wants to be a member of the Toronto Argonauts with whom Smith played the four final years of his career from 1976-1979.
“For me to be able to put Bruce’s number on and play in Toronto, that would mean something to me,” said Burns.
“I always try to give back in the football community to young kids. We need more people that were like Bruce who would take the time to help with a young kid. You never know the impact that you will have in the future down the road with that young kid.”
Burns isn’t interested in playing in the CFL for financial reasons. He’s pledged to donate any money he makes through this venture — along with the sale of his custom hats and jerseys — to Smith’s organization and local boys and girls clubs.
“The hell with it. I’m happy with what I’m going to do and, at the end of the day, nobody’s going to really know the outcome until I actually put the pot on the head and go out there and knock somebody out,” said Burns.
“I owe everything to football. Football’s the greatest sport on the planet. The CFL game is an amazing game to watch and play. I’m just hope that I’m going to get this opportunity.”