Transcribed Interview with Darian Durant
Published: Friday, May 18th 2018, 4:05pm
by: Stephen Safinuk (@Safimod)
We had several requests to transcribe the interview with Darian Durant, for those who aren’t necessarily able to listen to it on the podcast, so here it is.
If you would like to listen to the interview directly, the audio can be found here on the website or via podbean:
I have to admit, this was one of my favourite interviews over the past few years. It was great to sit down and talk with Darian Durant about his retirement, his signing bonus, and what it’s like to be able to speak his mind freely on Social Media.
Alex: Joining us on the line is Rider legend, one of the greatest players to ever put on a green and white jersey. Mr Darian Durant. Mr Durant, thank you so much for your time.
Darian Durant: Thanks for having me.
Alex : So first question here. Obviously you’ve announced your retirement on Friday. Take us through what your process of deciding to retire was. How did that all come about.
Darian Durant: Well back when I signed in January I was 100 percent committed. You know there was no doubt in my mind I still wanted to play. Just had my first born daughter at the time so you know I was just ready to play ball. So this time went on I went down to Atlanta to train and it was really my first amount of significant time away from my family so well during that time just was missing my family found out as well my wife wouldn’t be able to make it down to Winnipeg much during the season so I was gonna be away from our family a lot more and you know previously thought I would. So you know it’s all just taking that into consideration. My body wasn’t really responding the way I wanted it to during training. So you know I just felt like it was time to put family first and take care of my body and make sure I was able to be there for my kids growing up. And you know that became my number one priority. So I just went ahead and made the decision.
Steve: Now there’s something that we kind of want to put to bed here. We’ve we’ve heard a lot of chirps from the province to the east. One of the biggest ones and we find it kind of funny is that this was this whole signing bonus and everything associated with it was a conspiracy started with with your time in Saskatchewan and this was all planned out. Can you just tell us your thoughts on the idea of a conspiracy theory about this.
Darian Durant: Yes crazy. I mean I’m I’ve always treated the game with respect. You know treated everyone with respect. I feel even when I felt like I was done wrong at times I’ve always felt like I’ve been a professional you know guy and I wouldn’t ever just sign on to a situation knowing that you know I’m done. Like I said back in January my 100 percent intention was to play football. And you know things change over time. Over time you find that your priorities change. And you know that’s exactly what happened for me. So to hear that that it was premeditated and all that is totally bogus you know of course you know the fans in the province of the East I think they complain a lot anyway. So they were just trying to find something wrong with the situation.
Alex: Now obviously they’re upset because you got that 70000 dollar signing bonus. So you said that you deserve a signing bonus and I absolutely agree because it’s a signing bonus. It’s not a playing bonus it’s not a roster bonus it’s to sign your name on the contract correct.
Darian Durant: Yes. I agree. And not only that I just think that you know what people don’t realize is that even during the offseason we’re still going 100 mph every day, training our bodies getting ready and getting ready for the season and we risk injury every single day. I think I saw today where Winnipeg released a receiver that broke his foot while he was training this offseason and I mean we still deserve to get paid for the work we put in during the off season. And you know signing bonuses are part of that. So not only do you get paid to sign you get paid to work out you get paid to get yourself prepared for the season. I did all of that so I felt like you know I did what I needed to do to deserve that.
Alex: Actually throughout the years you also took a lot of pay cuts and deferred money to the future to help the team around you. Especially in the salary cap world. Was this also in a sense a way to kind of recoup some of those lost wages.
Durant: I mean I guess you can say that in hindsight you know. That that wasn’t you know a priority going into the situation. I mean of course you know this is a definitely a performance based business and we don’t perform up to par then, you know, sometimes the salary gets taken gets a hit taken along with it. But no way whatsoever was it just to recoup what I lost in the past. It just so happened that you know I have received a signing bonus. I decided to retire. And I guess you can incorporate those things with one another but it wasn’t in the plans whatsoever.
Steve: Now I think we’ve spent long enough talking about your short time in Winnipeg. We really want to take a look at your time here in Saskatchewan. One of our listeners, actually several of them, have asked a very similar question. Other than winning the Grey Cup in 2013, what do you feel was your best moment in green and white.
Darian Durant: You know I would have to say that BC game. That home semifinal game leading up to the Grey Cup. I think that you know with us being down early that game, you know, me kind of taking it upon myself to not force the ball downfield use my legs make things happen that way. I just kind of taken that game over in the fourth quarter. That was a huge game for me so that would be you know I guess I could say number two when it comes to most memorable moments.
Alex: We had a question from somebody here as well and it also kind of relates to being at Taylor Field and playing in that last game there. Was there anything from that stadium that you made sure that you took with you. Or is there something that you would want to have from that stadium.
Darian Durant: Well I think you know the most important person to me in my life is my daughter. Her middle name is Taylor. Her name is Amiyah Taylor. So I have nothing physically but you know having my daughter with me at all times that means that that stadium will be with me for the rest of my life and for her life as well. So you know that was always a special place for me. It was home for me for 11 years. So you know like I said nothing physically but Taylor will always stay with me.
Alex: So that 2016 season obviously a tough season here in Saskatchewan but that final game at Taylor field. Do you take a lot of pride in knowing that you were the quarterback in that final game against B.C.. Obviously you didn’t turn out the way that we all would have hoped, ut was that something that you can say you know what I take pride in and that and I was the guy that helped close that stadium
Darian Durant: For sure for sure. I mean you’re talking about over 100 years of history in one stadium. To be able to close it down, so many memorable moments that have happened in that place, so it definitely means a lot. I was even in town when it got torn down so it was just a special place and it always hold a special place in my heart.
Alex: Now you played a lot of years with the same guys. Guys like Weston Dressler, Rob Bagg. How important was it for you to play a lot of those years with guys who end up becoming really good friends.
Darian Durant: I think that a lot of people underestimate the friendships and the close bonds that you make with your teammates and you know being able to play with the same group of guys for so long. It’s just a great feeling. I mean like you said not only were they great teammates but you know you take lifelong friendships along with it. And I think that’s the key to winning. Chemistry. Continuity. Making sure that you can have you know a system in place and coaches and players in place that you can build chemistry with. That’s what creates success. And you know being having that same group of guys together. That’s why we have that type of success that we did.
Steve: Now we had a couple of questions regarding your future here. I know you mentioned that you had plans to start up a foundation here in Saskatchewan. First of all tell us a little bit about that and then do you see yourself getting into the coaching aspect of football now that your career as a player is done.
Darian Durant: First and foremost I don’t want to make any announcements about the foundation. It’s only in the final stages of you know everything so I just want to hold tight on that. I will make a formal announcement about the foundation later on. Saskatchewan is just a special place. I don’t know if I’ll coach but I definitely want to be involved with football one day hopefully in Saskatchewan but if not, you know I think football has a special place in my heart and it’s definitely something I want to do going forward. I just don’t know if it will be coaching but right now it’s just all about the fam. Being with my family each and every day and that’s what I’m looking forward to.
Alex: This might be one of the questions that you might want to brush off here. But I did get a couple of people say that said they wouldn’t mind hearing. I know it’s easy to say maybe in hindsight but do you regret not accepting the Riders 2017 offer.
Darian Durant: Honestly I thought about that a couple times you know but in hindsight of course you know when you look back and you see how your career ended. You go to a new team a new locker room and you don’t have a lot of success. You don’t know the guys around you that well. So in looking back in that aspect of course you say ‘man you know I wish I would’ve just taken a pay cut and stayed’. But at the same time you know you have another job or another team wants to take care of you financially and it is a significant upgrade from what you were offered then you have to take care of your family at the same time. So in hindsight I would have loved to stay in Saskatchewan but at the same time I had to make a business decision for myself and my newborn.
Alex: Now 2017 a very tough year for you in Montreal. Two part question here. One that very first game against the Riders, that season opener, obviously going into the game it was Durant versus the Riders. That was the only story line and a football game is never one player versus a team it’s a team versus a team. But how important was it especially to beat them in that first game. But sorry we’ll just go with that. How important was it to you to beat the Riders in that first game.
Darian Durant: I think whenever you know when you have a coach or a GM tell you that you’re over the hill and he doesn’t think that you can you know be the guy to lead their team. You feel like you have something to prove. So it was the only thing that mattered to me that game was to win. It didn’t matter how we got it. I just wanted to win just to prove to the organization that I could still play and that they made a mistake by letting me go. So it was big and you know it was a great feeling at the time for sure.
Steve: What was your favorite thing outside of the fans and the team. But what was your favorite thing about Regina, Saskatchewan, or Canada as a whole.
Darian Durant: Man just the tranquility, the quietness of Saskatchewan. You know you can you can just be yourself you know. You don’t have to worry about you know the traffic of big cities. You know you can go anywhere at any given time of the day. You know I’m a country boy from South Carolina, so I like the small city vibe. Saskatchewan gave me that, I felt right at home. And you know that’s one of the main things I loved about it.
Alex: Being in the CFL, you were here for 12 years or so. Where was your favorite place outside of Saskatchewan to play?
Darian Durant: Wow I would say Winnipeg. Honestly those they have great fans there, to be honest. It was always a hectic environment. Very loud for sure. You know being in Saskatchewan for so long that was pretty much the only stadium where you could kind of get a vibe that you know resembled anything close to what it’s like for visitors at Taylor Field. So, Winnipeg was definitely an energetic environment. The fans were always loud and cheer the team on so I always had fun in that building.
Steve: Now you mentioned the fans in Winnipeg and we’ve seen you going back and forth with some over the last couple of days and we saw in 2013 when I can remember the gentleman’s name. I use the term gentlemen lightly, who kind of got on the air for not running the ball way back when. What’s it like post career when you don’t have to worry about the CFL social media policy. You don’t have to worry about the teams come in and slap in your hands for saying the wrong things. Kind of having those Twitter shackles off and being able to speak your mind completely.
Darian Durant: Yeah. I mean it’s a good feeling honestly. I mean for so long I would say for 10 years you just you know you just sit back and you take everything that people dish out. And I think a lot of people don’t realize that we’re human as well. And we have emotions as well. You know and like you said when you’re a player you don’t want to put yourself in a bad situation you don’t want to get fined. You don’t want to you know get slapped by the league for any reason at all so. Just to be able to vent and just let go some built up frustration for 10 plus years. I mean of course some things that came out they were out of character for sure but at the same time you know I don’t regret anything. Because you know people get to say whatever they want to our athletes and we’re supposed to just take the high road all the time and not say anything and not be able to defend ourselves. And you know I felt like I was a perfect opportunity for one to just defend myself you know from the fact that they said that I didn’t let them know that our retiring I thought that was bogus. So I just wanted to defend myself in that aspect and two, just you know defend myself and let them know that this wasn’t premeditated. I mean my intentions were to play, things didn’t work out. And that’s how the game goes sometimes. So I had to let the fans know the guys in my position we get cut all the time before bonuses. You know. We get cut. You see so many guys come to camp and get cut with contracts that they sign with teams and they get nothing out of it. So you know if the roles are reversed we’re all humans. And now you know if the roles are reversed you have to do what’s best for your family.
Alex: Now that actually leads into my next question here as well and it does have to do with Twitter and just being a professional athlete and your brother obviously being an NFL player as well. How hard is it as an athlete to have a social media and just what kind of crap do you guys actually put up with, with all your notifications. Do you your notifications off too or do you actually like sit there and read that stuff.
Darian Durant: I don’t read them all. But I don’t turn my notifications off. No I don’t mind going through some of them because sometimes you get messages from important people and people that really mean a lot to you so you don’t want to miss those. But it’s tough. I mean, I think fans and people on the outside they look at us a little bit differently then they will look at a normal person. And you know it could get ruthless as well from racial comments to you know comments about your family, your mother, your wife, your kids. I mean you name it of course there’s you know trolls and they’re professionals trying to get under their players skins. But you know it’s not easy. Especially if you know you’re sensitive to certain subjects in your life and it’s not easy to sit there and let people just say what they want to you. So sometimes I mean not just myself but you see athletes lashing out sometimes and just because you know you get tired of just taking, taking, taking, and not being able to say anything and then when you reach your limit you just let loose and you know it just happens sometimes.
Alex: You know what we can’t blame me for that. Some of the stuff that you guys put up with I don’t know how you guys do it but kudos to blocking it out and biting the tongue. So that’s a lot more restraint than I would have.
Darian Durant: Yeah it’s not easy.
Alex: I do have one more question here from a fan before we just kind of wrap things up here. There was a game against Calgary. You were running out of bounds. This is when you were with the Riders and you saw Dwight Anderson running up on the sidelines trying to take you out push you out of bounds. You decided to stay in bounds and you lowered the shoulder and just lit him up. He was this a retaliatory hit for Dwight’s abuse on Weston Dressler. And did you have words with Dwight at the time or any time afterwards regarding that hit.
Darian Durant: It was all for my boy Weston man. You know we’ve had some epic battles with Calgary over the days and you know even in the newspapers those guys were kind of you know saying some disrespectful things about us and you know our receivers and saying how we didn’t have a lot of talent. Even on the field you know they were twisting Weston’s ankle under piles or you know just playing dirty. So you know I’m a guy even though I play quarterback, I have my guys back at all times. And you know I saw that as an opportunity to you know take out a little bit of frustration on a guy that has been you know messing with my number one target. So I looked at it as an opportunity to put my head down and get physical with him and you know make a statement, and I took advantage of it. I’m glad I did that because after that you know he stopped all that mess and eventually we became great teammates and great friends so it’s crazy how that works out in the world of football but at the time I didn’t like him at all and I wanted to make him pay for everything that he’s done to my receivers.
Steve: Now one question we did ask and it’s probably the most important question we got all day. Is Oreo cheesecake still your go to for a Blizzard.
Darian Durant: It is. For sure And I know I got that from my my good friends up there at DQ right across from the stadium. So looking forward to getting back in town and stopping by there and saying hello. That was always my go to spot, once a week.
Alex: And last one for you here Darian. When are you coming back to Saskatchewan?
Darian Durant: I’m getting some things ironed out now. There are a couple speaking opportunities that I have that have come about since I announced my retirement so I’m looking into that, planning it out. But I definitely am going to make an appearance for Labor Day. I have that marked down on my calendar for sure so if the speaking engagements don’t work out, Labor Day, I will be there for sure. I’m looking forward to that.
Alex: I look forward to that as well. There’s going to be a few thousand Bomber fans there that will probably have some choice words for you but that’ll be par for the course, right?
Darian Durant: Looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great weekend.
Alex: Well thank you so much for your time tonight and also for absolutely everything you’ve done for the Rider’s franchise, for the CFL. Honestly I can tell you right now I’m sitting here wearing a Darian Durant jersey. Everything you’ve done, you’re one of four quarterbacks that won a Grey Cup here in Saskatchewan. I put out an article that I posted today that you’re you’re in my Mt. Rushmore of Rider players. So, thank you for everything you’ve done for this franchise and for this league.
Darian Durant: Oh man. Thank you. Thanks. Thank you for your tremendous support over the years. I really appreciate it. And if I am in town I’ll make sure to you know get up with you and we can get something done for sure.
Alex: I look forward to that. Thank you so much Mr. Durant.
Darian Durant: All right. No problem. Thanks for having me.
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