no­big Three- ring bling thing

Just not right that Rid­ers have won only a trio of Cups

SundayXtra - - TRENDS - BY ED TAIT Sun­day, Novem­ber 28, 2010

ED­MON­TON— They count Grey Cup cham­pi­onships in Saskatchewan on one hand. Yes, just three times in their ex­is­tence have the Roughrid­ers held the Grey Cup aloft at sea­son’s end — in 1966, 1989 and 2007.

And, truth­fully, that is some­thing that burns at the very core of Roughrider QB Dar­ian Du­rant. It’s also some­thing that struck him the minute the Rid­ers set up shop in the Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos’ dress­ing room for Grey Cup week, what with the Green and Gold’s 13 cham­pi­onships fea­tured promi­nently at the en­trance of their swank new digs.

“ When you walk into their room and see all the Grey Cups on the wall, that’s some­thing I want to bring to Saskatchewan,” said Du­rant ear­lier this week. “ I hate the fact there’s only been three ( Grey Cups) in 100 years.”

So Du­rant’s goal is to not only con­tinue to de­velop as a QB, but to make trips to the Grey Cup a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence for the fran­chise. He’s made the trips thing work so far — two years as the starter, two years in the big game, mak­ing him just the sec­ond Rider QB along­side Ron Lan­caster to ac­com­plish that — and has the back­ing of his head coach Ken Miller.

You see, it was Miller whomade a crit­i­cal de­ci­sion that has helped both Du­rant and the Rider fran­chise. It was back at the start of the 2009 sea­son when the 69-year-old coach de­cided he would hitch the Rider wagon to this young star and then see where he could lead it.

“ In Regina, the most pop­u­lar quar­ter­back for a long, long time has been the ‘ other one’,” Miller said ear­lier this week. “ It didn’t mat­ter who the ‘ other one’ was, or the guy who was play­ing was. I said ‘ we’re not go­ing to do that any­more.’ We’re go­ing to go with one quar­ter­back, and I’m go­ing to live or die with him.

“ From that point on, he was go­ing to be the quar­ter­back, or I wasn’t go­ing to be the coach. One way or the other.”

Du­rant comes from a fam­ily of ath­letes — his fa­ther played foot­ball and was a track star, his mother played softball, his brother Justin is linebacker with the Jack­sonville Jaguars and a sec­ond brother, Keyshawn, played at South Carolina State be­fore suf­fer­ing a seizure that robbed him of some of his vi­sion. Maybe it’s that per­spec­tive that has helped him han­dle swim­ming around in the fish­bowl that is play­ing quar­ter­back for the Rid­ers.

It’s also a big part of his game — his team­mates re­fer to him as ‘ Bounce Back’ — that fea­tures a re­solve and a re­siliency that has be­come this team’s trade­mark.

It’s also why Du­rant has come to un­der­stand what many do not: the statis­tics mean did­dly. The ring’s the thing.

“ We’re seek­ing that ring. That’s what we’re af­ter and that’s our goal,” he said. “ I do feel like I’m one of the top play­ers in this league, if I said oth­er­wise I’d be sell­ing my­self short. But where I rank, I don’t know. That’s for you guys to de­cide. I’ll let my play speak for it­self.”

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