Reaction in Rider Nation was swift but mixed after the announcement that quarterback Darian Durant had been traded. “Finally, the drama is over. It’s decided where he’s going to be,” Rider fan Lance Hackewich said.“I guess time will tell whether it’s a good decision or not. Something had to be done. We had to move forward one way or another,” he added. Andrew Kaun called Durant the heart of Rider Nation. Story continues below
“He did what he could with the franchise, and I mean, he won Grey Cups, which is all you can ask for out of a great guy,” Kaun said. “Football is a business, and it’s big what have you done for me lately. All of Durant’s injuries really put him in a position where we can’t afford to spend that kind of money on a quarterback,” Nelson Hackewich said. “I think everyone really thought he’d be the guy leading the team out in the new stadium in June,” Tim Rogers said. Durant was traded for a fourth round draft pick in 2017 and a conditional second round pick in 2018. Many fans said they thought he was worth more than that. “I think they should have got more out of him. It seems like they got a tackling dummy and a few practice balls, really,” Hackewich said. “But they were going to lose him in free agency, so they got something. It’s better than nothing.” “They probably got what they needed, but they probably could have gotten more for him,” Nelson said. Coach Chris Jones is now facing mixed feelings from fans as they struggle to come to terms with how he’s rebuilding the team. “Well he certainly put a big target on his head today, didn’t he,” Rogers said.“Chris Jones is a smart football guy. And he knows what he’s doing and I’m sure he has a plan, right? Coaches that listen to the fans will soon be sitting in the stands,” Lance said. “The team is young and raw without an identity,” Nelson said. “Some players are going to have to step up. I think you’re going to look to the defensive side of the ball. Players like Otha Foster, Ed Gainey, those veterans are going to have to become the face of the franchise.” “When Durant came to the team originally, it’s similar to the situation we’re in now. An older quarterback, Kerry Joseph, was on his way out. This young gentleman named Darian Durant, nobody knew who he was, and we all had the same amount of faith in him as we do our current backup quarterbacks,” Nelson said. “We’ll see who proves himself going forward, and we’ll build another legend.” Fans have different theories on what might happen with the team next. “I want to see them groom Brandon Bridge, who’s a great young Canadian…or go after James Franklin,” Nelson said. “Who’s out there? Is it going to be Ricky Ray or Henry Burris? You’re going older with those guys too,” Rogers said. “I guess that’s the big thing with everyone, there doesn’t seem to be a younger, better option available right now.”After 11 seasons and two Grey Cups with the Riders, fans say Durant is leaving them with fond memories, both on and off the field. “I was doing a camp and he was the quarterback coach at the time for us, just came in and did some things, showed us some moves, and he’s just the most down-to-earth genuine guy, would do anything for absolutely anybody,” Kaun said. “In my heart, he’ll always be green,” Lance said.
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