Offensive lineman Dyakowski released
Key member of team and community for 10 years signs with the Argos: ‘People were great to me, the city was great to me’
His 10-year career with the Ticats made him the team’s longest-serving member
The phone rings once, twice, three times ... “Peter Dyakowski, Toronto Argonauts.” Even on what must have been a difficult day, Peter Dyakowski’s sense of humour — quirky as it is — remained intact.
Until his release on Thursday, Dyakowski had been the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ longestserving member, having spent his entire 10-year career with the Ticats after being selected by the club in the second round of the 2006 CFL draft.
He is not just a recognizable face in this community but its ambassador across the country. He was crowned Canada’s Smartest Person after a 2012 contest on CBC television and appeared as a contestant on “Jeopardy!” in 2014. For a league in desperate need of well-spoken, likable personalties, Dyakowski managed it from the generally anonymous left guard spot.
But his tenure in Hamilton came to an end in a rather sudden and ignominious manner, released via a seven-line news release that featured two sentences from vice-president of football operations Kent Austin. It was a tough ending and Dyakowski — like many Ticats before him — likely deserved better in some alternate universe where football isn’t a harsh and unfair business.
“I don’t really want to get into the nitty-gritty. A lot of guys leave a team and they get hung up on how they left it. I look back and I’ve got phenomenal memories,” Dyakowski said before firing a shot in Austin’s general direction. “The team is bigger than a couple of people who make decisions at any one time.”
Sentiment aside, from a football and salary cap perspective, this move makes sense for the Ticats.
Dyakowski will be 33 in April and while he enjoyed a remarkable renaissance two seasons ago after coming all the way back from a torn patella suffered in the 2013 Grey Cup game, his mobility and flexibility have clearly begun to wane. He still has plenty of veteran savvy — though he’s always been prone to the occasional mental lapse — but the physical skills are starting to diminish.
All this doesn’t mean he can’t help the Toronto Argonauts, who signed him to a two-year contract in excess of $100,000 per season.
Dyakowski acknowledged it will be a little strange pulling on the Double Blue, but he seemed excited at the prospect of continuing his CFL career while not having to uproot his young family — he and wife Rachel had their first child last summer — from their home in Hamilton.
“I’m jumping headfirst in with the Argos. I’m all in,” he said. “I’m turning onto a new page of my career and I’m looking forward to making new memories.”
And his Hamilton love is heartfelt. “I was fortunate to have the time I had in Hamilton. I had a terrific run and the support of phenomenal fans. People were great to me, the city was great to me,” he said. “I value the 10 years.”
Peter Dyakowski won’t be putting on this jersey again as a member of the Tiger-Cats. He was released by the team after 10 years of service Thursday.
Peter Dyakowski stands guard for quarterback Zach Collaros during a game against Winnipeg on Aug. 9, 2015.