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Tales from the Angry Dome: Darian Durant and Rider Nation

Published: Monday, May 1st 2017, 7:05am

​By Greg McCulloch

The first step in fixing a problem is realizing we have a problem and to be blunt RiderNation… We have a problem. I say “we” because I am one of you… I have season tickets, I wear my green with pride, I count my pizza discount on every Crapigna field goal, I yell “HENNNNNNNRY” at the top of my lungs for 4 quarters, I felt the low of the 2009 Grey Cup, and rode the wave of emotions in the stands of the “Ultimate Mosaic Moment” in 2013.

So now that we settled my Piffles Way Cred, what is the problem you may ask? Well, to be honest, it’s the blind love and devotion to Darian Durant. Now before you start firing up manure trucks, trolling or flaming me, and force me to defend the virtue of my mother on twitter (she’s a saint btw) … Hear me out. Darian has been a great leader, a great player, a great ambassador and a sure fire first ballot Plaza of Honour Inductee… BUT… It is time to let him go if he wishes to go.

For the record, in my circle of friends I have been known as the “Durant Apologist” and on this very blog, I called Durant the Riders best shot of winning immediately. But it is time to let him go because now its more and more obvious he wants to go. The relationship between him and this management is completely fractured.

Honestly, you can’t blame him, he has given almost a decade to the franchise. Took the team to three Grey Cups, winning one (which should have been two and no fault of his). He has had five head coaches and even more offensive coordinators through the years. Seen teammates and friends come and go. He’s battled injuries and carried this team on his back whenever it needed a play. He has always been professional and a good Rider.

Because he was a good Rider, he restructured his contract for less money and now he feels like he was given a raw deal by Chris Jones and company. He feels like he isn’t their guy and if he did come back without a big money guarantee there is a good chance he might not even be the starting QB when the new stadium opens. Similar to Henry Burris’ battle with Roy Shivers, just minus the new stadium obviously.

However, we need to remember it was Darian’s decision to go with a one-year deal last year when the team offered him a multi-year deal. I will always respect Darian’s decision to bet on himself to prove he could put numbers up and stay healthy for a full season after it became a black mark on his reputation. However, this impasse that we are at now was always a possible outcome and Darian knew it.

Some fans have accepted that Darian is most likely going to be an Alouette by Canada day (or maybe a Bomber, depending on how the Nichols contract shakes out). Others have faith that he and the Riders will come together and do what’s “best” for both sides, which is also fine by me. But there are those that are talking about boycotts and bans if Durant doesn’t come back, which honestly isn’t Chris Jones fault. Whatever happens now is Darian’s decision and everyone should respect the outcome. This will actually be an acceptable use of #DurantsFault.

Chris Jones’ job is to build a winning team for how long he ever wants to have a job with the Roughriders. He had to make hard decisions and cut a lot of fan favourites to make the team competitive and more cap friendly so it wasn’t a prolonged rebuild. Nostalgia and good feelings are not going to win Chris Jones games.  If it did I am sure he would have talked George Reed into coming out of retirement by the third game just to get a win. It’s his job to win games, not win the battle of public opinion.

The battle for fan approval almost always goes to the player, very rarely do you see fans side with management unless it is releasing a player for a crime or embarrassing the team. The New England Patriots come to mind as the only exception to the rule. No one is safe in Bill Belichick’s system unless their name rhymes with “Dom Grady” and even then, that relationship is probably doomed.

At the end of the day, Jones has X number of dollars that he wants to pay a 34-year-old quarterback who has been injured every season since 2011. Is it incentive heavy? Of course, it is but that is Jones protecting his investment in the team. It allows flexibility to pay other positions like a less porous offensive line, a defensive secondary that doesn’t blow every deep coverage, or linebackers that can tackle a running back. There is more to a football team than a Quarterback, although I know sometimes it sure doesn’t seem that way.

Whatever happens with Darian in the next few months, we all need to remember there is nothing that can erase his legacy in green and white. If he rolls into new Mosaic wearing a different team uniform I am sure it will be difficult for him and fans alike but that’s pro football.

And I can promise you I will be there giving him a standing ovation before the game starts… but the minute that opening whistle goes it will be full blown “DAAAAAARRRRRIAN”.

 

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