Darian Durant is saying goodbye to professional football.
The former Roughrider quarterback made the announcement on his website Friday morning.
Durant said he’s retiring to spend more time with his daughter and to pursue other opportunities off the field.
Durant joined the Green Zone Friday to talk about his choice. He said the decision was made after he started training in Atlanta.
“Those three weeks I was without my family was just so hard for me, found out my wife couldn’t make it out to Winnipeg this year for the season, it just made me reevaluate things,” Durant explained.
“I was missing my family like crazy. You hear all your friends and teammates who have kids talk about how they change their life and how it’s going to be tough leaving your family going in for the season.”
Durant also said his body wasn’t responding the way he wanted it to.
One of the big reasons why Durant decided to retire was to spend more time with his newborn daughter.
He said it was just amazing the first time he got to hold her.
“She came out, her eyes were wide open, she was just staring in my eyes, it’s a moment you can’t put into words, you just have to be there to experience it,” Durant said.
“It’s just that moment when someone now depends on you for everything, you have to be there for them at any given moment. It changed my life and I want to enjoy that phase of life, I don’t want to leave my family and that was a part of my decision.”
Durant reflects on some who impacted his career
Ken Miller, a former Riders head coach, said he expected Durant to do well in everything he did.
Durant said the one word that comes to mind when he thinks of Miller is “opportunity.”
“He didn’t care who came in, what their accolades were in university (or) college football, he wanted the best guy to win the job and he gave each and every quarterback an opportunity, he gave me my first opportunity to become a starter,” Durant explained.
Durant said Miller also became a father figure to him off the field.
“Coach Miller has meant so much to me, not only on the field but off the field as well. Him being in Montreal last year, we were able to sit down and talk a lot more than we did when he was in Regina. I just learned so much from that guy,” he said.
Former Riders quarterback Kerry Joseph said Durant was a guy that was willing to learn and willing to be patient.
Durant said he learned so much from Joseph and also from Marcus Crandell.
“Usually when you’re a young guy coming in and you’re dealing with some veterans, they don’t open up their mind to you … but Kerry and Marcus, they weren’t like that. They taught me everything that they knew. They showed me the ins and outs of the CFL, taught me out to be a pro, they just paved the way for me,” he said.
He said he was proud to wear the number four jersey and see all the success the team would have while he was there. Joseph wore the number four before Durant.
“Of course I’m going to be bias and say ‘of course we should retire (the jersey)’ but it’s a special number and it means a lot to me as well as (Kerry Joseph),” Durant said.
His first year as a start with the Riders
Durant said he had a little bit of growing pains in his first few years with the Riders.
“When coach Miller sat me down, he let me know when he pulled me off the field that he still had faith in me, just take a deep breath, take a couple series off and then go back in and do what you do best,” he explained.
He said he’s thankful for having to sit out and then being able to go out again and connect with his teammates better.
Durant’s football future
Durant said there is more football left in his life, as he’s been playing football since he was about five years old.
“I always want to be a part of the game in some capacity and I have some opportunities inside of football that I’m weighing at the moment. Thankfully those opportunities are giving me a little time to sit back and enjoy my family for a bit,” he said.
Durant reflects on his Grey Cup runs with the Riders
Durant helped the Riders win the Grey Cup in 2013.
He said having the Grey Cup escape the team in 2009 and 2010 was motivation for the team.
Durant said the team was hungry in 2013 and nothing was going to stop them from getting that trophy.
“That was the single most memorable moment I will ever have as a Rider. I’m sure a lot of my teammates will say the same thing. The icing on top was just having that at home, our fans being able to celebrate that victory right there in Regina,” he said.
Durant called it the biggest moment of his career.
– With files from The Green Zone