Darian Durant is dedicating his Grey Cup performance to his grandmother.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback said he’ll be playing in Sunday’s championship contest for his 85-year-old grandmother Ethel, who had been in hospice back in his hometown of Florence, South Carolina, on the verge of passing away. But she made a sudden, dramatic turn.
“Back in September she was in hospice and they took her home to die in peace,” said the 31-year-old Durant, addressing the media after the team’s final walk-through on Saturday. “But she fought back, now she’s up, talking, moving around and told me to dedicate everything to her. We call her Chubby – she weighs about 100 pounds.”
The quarterback said he feels much more relaxed going into this Grey Cup than he did when he played in 2009 and 2010, games the Riders lost to the Montreal Alouettes.
Durant decided to stop by to visit the fans at Riderville on Friday evening. It’s something he didn’t do in past Grey Cup appearances – he had opted to stay in, but said he wanted to soak in the experience this time. He surprised the fans by appearing on stage and addressing the crowd.
“I just wanted to show the fans my appreciation for their support,” said Durant. “I wanted to thank the fans personally and it was also a wonderful experience for me to see the support and how jam-packed that place was.”
He says he didn’t drink anything – not even a Pilsner so popular in Regina. He just wanted to embrace the support.
“I’m just being myself, and that’s how I’m approached every game this season,” said Durant. “Just be yourself and let it fly and let the chips fall where they may. I like to have fun, dance and joke. That’s what I’ll do in this game.”
He’ll be staying in tonight, meeting with teammates.
“I’ve learned to enjoy these moments, because they don’t come around very often,” said Durant. “We were just young pups [in the previous Grey Cup games], running around like chickens with our heads cut off. We understand now what it takes to get the job done. When you’re a veteran-lead team like we are with multiple guys who have won multiple grey cups, you understand the significance of being loose and ready to go.