Manitoba

'I would bleed green': CFL's Darian Durant announces retirement, surprising Bombers

CFL quarterback Darian Durant, newly signed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, is hanging up his helmet.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers say newly signed backup quarterback didn't let them know

Former Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant announced his retirement from football Friday, after signing a one-year contract with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in January. (Mark Taylor/Canadian Press)

Darian Durant is hanging up his helmet.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers' newly signed backup quarterback announced his retirement through a link posted on his Twitter account Friday morning.

"To the CFL, my former teammates, coaches, and to all the guys I've battled against over the past 12 years: I just want to say thank you," says the statement on Durant's blog.

"Thank you for helping me develop into the man I am today. So many life lessons have been learned throughout this football journey. With that being said, I have decided to retire from football."

The 35-year-old was signed to a one-year contract with the blue and gold in January. The veteran had been released by the Montreal Alouettes a day before he was to receive a $150,000 bonus from the team.

He had yet to take the field for the Bombers, who were surprised by the announcement.

Durant didn't tell the Winnipeg Blue Bombers about his decision, the team said in a statement released shortly after Durant's announcement.

"We were notified through social media this morning that he has decided to retire from professional football," said Bombers general manager Kyle Walters. "While we respect his decision, we are of course are extremely disappointed.

"Until recently, Darian had given us every indication that he was accepting of his role as a backup and prepared to help our offence in any capacity possible."

Durant's career in the Canadian Football League saw his name on the rosters of four different teams, but in his statement Friday, Durant made it clear which team was his team.

"If you cut me open, I am sure that I would bleed green. Saskatchewan and Regina will always be home," he said.

12-year career

Durant was first signed by the Ottawa Renegades in 2006 but was transferred to Hamilton after the franchise folded and then traded to Saskatchewan, where he stayed for a decade.

He was the Riders Number 2 quarterback during his first two seasons in Saskatchewan — which included the team's Grey Cup win in 2007 — and  was moved into the full-time starter role in 2009.

That year he threw for 4,348 yards and was named to the West Division All-Star squad. He threw for 5,542 yards the following year and is ranked second all-time for passing yards in franchise history for the Roughriders and third in passing touchdowns.

Darian Durant led the Roughriders to the 2013 Grey Cup championship. (Simon Roberge/CBC)

Durant led the Saskatchewan Roughriders to three Grey Cup games and hoisted the trophy on home turf in 2013, the year he threw a career-best 31 passing touchdowns and earned another spot on the West Division All-Star squad.

He was sidelined by a torn Achilles heel in 2015 but returned to the field in 2016, passing for 3,839 yards in 15 starts.

The veteran was traded to Montreal in 2017 after the Riders 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.

The Alouettes finished dead last in the CFL last year and Durant was released by the team.

Daughter named for Taylor Field

Durant's retirement comes on the heels of the birth of his daughter in January, who he named Amayah Taylor — after Saskatchewan's Taylor Field — according to his statement.

"It meant so much to me to be able to play in the last game at 'old' Mosaic Stadium," he said, adding this decision to retire means he'll be able to watch his daughter grow up.

"I look forward to one day showing my family around Regina, and showing my daughter where her father won a championship in front of Ridernation on 'Taylor' Field."

Darian Durant was released by the Montreal Alouettes in January 2018, a day before he was set to receive a $150,000 bonus. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Durant didn't say exactly what he'll do now that he's retired, but did say he plans to launch a foundation in Saskatchewan to "help raise funds and give back to the community that has given me so much."

With files from Elisha Dacey