'I just want to help': Darian Durant embraces backup role with Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Bombers' new backup QB says Winnipeg was "the best spot" for him after being released from the Alouettes earlier this week.

Darian Durant says he hopes his veteran experience will help Matt Nichols

Darian Durant said three teams reached out to him this week but he felt the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offered a "great environment" for the veteran quarterback. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Bombers' new backup QB says Winnipeg was "the best spot" for him after being released from the Alouettes earlier this week.

Darian Durant said Sunday he was approached by three teams this week and decided on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"I think it's no secret, you know, Montreal came to me and they wanted to renegotiate my deal. And you know, once the deadline came and they released me, the first thing I wanted to do was just look at other opportunities," said Durant. 

"So once I got released, I just looked at the opportunities that were out there and Winnipeg was the best spot that I felt was best for me at the time and you know, made that decision."

Bomber brass announced the signing of a one-year contract on Saturday evening with the veteran QB, who lead the Saskatchewan Roughriders to three Grey Cup games over a decade and hoisted the trophy on home turf in 2013. But at the beginning of the 2015 season, he suffered a torn Achilles heel.

The team fell on hard times and made wholesale changes to the front office. Chris Jones was hired to turn things around, and he and Durant did not see eye to eye.

"When people doubt you, and they don't think that you're good enough to run their organization or lead their organization or you're not good enough to be a champion, I mean, I use that as fuel," he told CBC last year.

Durant was traded to the Alouettes, where the team also went through a lousy 2017 season, ending dead last in the CFL with only three wins.

"The past two years I've been in rough situations and looking at the locker room in Winnipeg, I just wanted to get into a work environment where I was happy every day," said Durant.

It's been a tough time for me. I just wanted to take a step back, and just enjoy work, and I'm hoping that this is that situation.- Darian Durant

"It's been a tough time for me. I just wanted to take a step back, and just enjoy work, and I'm hoping that this is that situation."

The backup role is one he hopes to relish, said Durant, adding his goal is to help starter Matt Nichols however he can. 

"Just be a different set of eyes for him, maybe tell him the way I saw different things throughout my career and what I see defence is trying to do to stop him," said Durant. 

"I spoke to Matt and I told him that I'm just coming in to support you 100 per cent. You know, you're the guy … If my number's called, just be ready, but like I said, be that veteran guy that can help him as much as possible."

Some of the things he's looking forward to are being coached by Paul LaPolice and Mike O'Shea, he said, and being back on the same team with veteran receiver Weston Dressler, another Roughrider-turned-Bomber.

"Once we both departed Saskatchewan, you know, we both kind of felt like we had our run and we'd probably never be teammates again. Even leading up to this process, I talked to him a lot," said Durant. "And texted him last night and I told him, you know, I'm excited just to talk football with you again."

One year at a time

For now, Durant said he plans to take things one year at a time. 

"You never know what's ahead of you. When you tear your Achilles in game one, three years ago, everything kind of flashes before your eyes, so I'm just taking it year by year."

One last tidbit: The Bombers' new QB is also a new dad.

Durant said his baby daughter Amayah Taylor was born January 9. 

About the Author

Elisha Dacey

Journalist

Elisha Dacey is a journalist with CBC Manitoba. She is the former managing editor of Metro Winnipeg and her work has been seen in newspapers from coast to coast. Reach her at elisha.dacey@cbc.ca.

With files from Douglas Gelevan