Monday, 24 September 2018

Durant doesn’t rule out returning to CFL

Darian Durant speaks at the In the End Zone Dinner.
    It was the question everyone wanted Darian Durant to answer.
    How much fun was it to DJ at Gabbo’s Nightclub after winning the 2011 Labour Day Classic?
    Speaking to a packed banquet room in the clubhouse building at Saskatoon Minor Football Field, the legendary former Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback grinned and answered the query at the Saskatoon Hilltops End Zone Dinner on Saturday night.
    “It was nice,” said Durant. “It took it way back with that one.
    “You know 2011 was a rough year, and after getting that win in the Labour Day Classic, I think that was when (head) coach (Ken) Miller came back for his first game after his retirement. I was just happy to get a win.
    “It was just a regular party, and Gabbo’s was the place to be.”
    Durant was the guest speaker at Saturday’s dinner, where the net proceeds go towards scholarships and bursaries for Hilltops players. A question and answer session was part of the program.
    Of course, the 36-year-old from Florence, South Carolina, was asked if he would return to play in the CFL during the Q and A session. Durant announced his retirement on May 11.
    “You just never know,” said Durant. “I remember we were talking at the table when Kerry Joseph came back in 2014, (and) he came back right before the playoffs.”
Darian Durant, left, shares a laugh with Dave Thomas.
    The signal caller, who played 12 seasons in the CFL, said he retired because his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child in daughter, Amayah Taylor. Amayah Taylor was named after the Roughriders former storied home park, Taylor Field.
    “I wanted to be there every step of the way,” said Durant, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 214 pounds. “Now that she is a little bit older, I am kind of itching a little bit.
    “The feeling is coming back, so we’ll what it holds here in a couple of weeks and who may need a quarterback for a playoff run.”
    He was also asked if he thought about coaching.
    “I thought about being the offensive coordinator of the ‘Riders right now,” said Durant, who played for the Roughriders from 2006 to 2016. “Of course, I have my differences with Chris Jones, but I want to see the organization win no question about it.
    “It seems that they need some offensive help (with) the way the defence is playing and special teams is scoring touchdowns. If we can score some offensive touchdowns, we have a Grey Cup team.”
Darian Durant celebrates scoring a touchdown in 2016.
    If Durant was to return to the CFL, that move has to run through the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who still have the signal caller under contract. After playing the 2017 CFL season with the Montreal Alouettes, Durant was released by that club and signed a one-year deal with the Bombers.
    His separation from the Winnipeg side was a messy one as those associated with the Bombers howled at the fact Durant kept a $70,000 signing bonus. The contract with the Bombers expires in February of 2019.
    Besides the serious queries, Durant was asked questions that were more on the humourous side including his thoughts on end zone dances, giving advice on who to start on a fantasy football team and which Roughriders mom made the best cookies.
    Durant said Karen Newman, who is the mother of Durant’s former teammate and Hilltops alum Graig Newman, made the best cookies.
    “I’ll always remember those cookies,” said Durant, who looked towards Karen Newman in giving his response. “Thank you so much.”
    The man who quarterback the Roughriders to a 45-23 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 2013 Grey Cup at Taylor Field was asked what he thought about social media.
    “Some guys are just outspoken,” said Durant, who was a reserve quarterback on the Roughriders 2007 Grey Cup championship team. “Some guys don’t know how to express themselves.
Darian Durant (#4) fires a pass down the seam in 2016.
    “I think social media gives you a platform to interact with your fans and interact with people who may never be able to speak to you. It can also be a downfall, because when things aren’t going your way, sometimes you get out of character and say things you don’t mean.
    “I’ve been guilty of that. I’ve been fined numerous times by the league for social media rants. It can be good and bad.”
    When he was asked to do an impersonation of current Roughriders head coach and general manager Chris Jones, Durant played that offer down.
    “I think someone is trying to get me in trouble here,” said Durant with a chuckle. “They probably have their phone recording what I am saying right now.”
    Jones held his current role during Durant’s final season with the Roughriders in 2016. Durant offered up his thoughts on Jones, who has the Roughriders sitting second in the West Division at 8-5.
    “I think he is an excellent coach,” said Durant. “The business side of things we just didn’t see eye-to-eye.
    “You just have to respect that. He is in a position of power, and you have to respect your boss and that is just how that went.”
Darian Durant (#4) throws a pass into the flat in 2016.
    With the Roughriders, Durant sits second in team history for career pass attempts (3,584), completions (2,226), yards (28,507) and touchdown passes (152).
    During his 12 seasons in the CFL, he completed 2,500 out of 4001 passes for 31,740 yards, 167 touchdown passes and 115 interceptions.
    Durant closed the question and answer session saying he was pumped to have had the opportunity to be the guest speaker that night for the dinner to help Saskatoon’s storied Canadian Junior Football League club.
    “I always enjoy coming to Saskatoon,” said Durant. “The tradition here is just amazing.
    “I’ve just been hearing about the success that this Hilltops squad has been having over the years. The commitment to excellence starts here. You guys pave the way for these kids.
    “You guys make it possible. I just want to thank you guys for having me. Keep pushing these kids to not only be the best on the field, but off the field as well.”

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