Releasing Dyakowski makes sense for Ticats, still feels wrong

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’ longest-serving 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 long-standing 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 a lot of 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 has 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. There’s no shame in that, it’s just the awful clock of the natural world doing its thing.

Rookie Brandon Revenberg started taking reps from Dyakowski early last season and had fully supplanted him as the starter by season’s end — only the youngster’s shift to tackle due to ratio needs kept the veteran in the starting lineup for the playoffs.

With veterans Ryan Bomben and Mike Filer fully established, the Ticats also have some young offensive lineman in development — Mathieu Girard showed last year he’s ready to contribute, and Everton Williams needs a chance to show he can.

All of them are younger and, in most cases, cheaper than Dyakowski, who made in the neighbourhood of $160,000 last season and was set to make a similar amount again this year — far too much for a player who won’t be starting. The team offered Dyakowski the opportunity to retire or return at much lower salary and the opportunity to compete for a backup job at training camp — with no guarantees that he’d be on the roster.

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 — an appropriate number if they think Dyakowski can play a sixth-man role. But the Ticats have other younger, cheaper and more versatile options.

Dyakowski acknowledged it will be a little strange pulling on the Double Blue for the first time in training camp, but he seemed legitimately 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.

“It’s funny because over the years, I’ve had a lot of fun with the rivalry, to put it mildly, and now I get to be on the other side of it,” he said. “I’m jumping headfirst in with the Argos. I’m all in. I’m turning onto a new page of my career and I’m looking forward to making new memories.”

Then he made a joke about giving away all his Ticat gear to similarly-sized family members before acknowledging that sentiment will require he keep some it.

“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.”

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1358 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

18 Comments on Releasing Dyakowski makes sense for Ticats, still feels wrong

  1. Lindsay Wilcox // February 17, 2017 at 7:49 am //

    “Strictly business” IS such a nasty, but necessary turn of words. It’s unfortunate, but it happens to many nice young men when the business deems them expendable and looks at $$$ while passing over the invaluable experience and leadership.

    Ticats – spend that $160,000 wisely.

    • He stayed healthy far too long and was destroying the moral of all the team members.

      • Poor Pete… kept his health (aside from that brutal knee injury of course) and destroyed the team’s principles of right and wrong behavior. 😉

  2. Jim Harvie // February 17, 2017 at 8:27 am //

    I’m glad Peter gets to continue his career. He obviously still has the fire. I’m kind of looking forward to him stirring the pot during those rivalry games.

  3. “The team is bigger than a couple of people…” what a great line from a (now former) Ticat!
    Stay Healthy!

  4. I’ve heard it many times and it’s completely true. Everyone loves football, but football loves no one; it’s a very cold performance based business. Every team is constantly grooming a replacement for you. I love Peter but I understand the decision even though it does break my heart. It will be fun to see him on the other side of the Argos rivalry. I just hope when he finally does decide to hang them up, Hamilton does him some justice and sign him to a 1-day deal to allow him to retire with the Ticats.

  5. Drew great article.I am sad to see Peter go a Great Tiger Cat,but yes it makes a lot of Sense.Bomben,Revenberg and Filer have potential to be Studs and Girard looked solid filling in for Filer but he might be to small outside the center spot.My only issue is you mention Williams but not Landon Rice he just re-signed with us and has been here longer and has looked solid every time he has been given playing time.

  6. Al K. Holic // February 17, 2017 at 10:17 am //

    Peter is no longer a Cat but thankfully, Gordon still is.

  7. Years ago I had a chance to talk with Ron Lancaster. While there was no salary cap, the team was struggling financially and clearly had an internal cap. I asked Mr. Lancaster what that meant for him beyond the $ implications and he responded with two thoughts: a) don’t fall in love with your players and b)once injuries start to happen some hard decisions have to be made.
    The release of Peter falls under both criteria: this was going to happen sooner than later. While I hate to think of Peter with that uniform on, he has been nothing but classy. All the best (except against us!)

  8. Sinkfield is not coming to the hammer because the Cats have signed TYMS.

  9. Good luck and thank you to Pete. The decision does make sense from a performance and salary point of view. Clearly, Pete’s best years were behind him and he has had to overcome the effects of devestating injury. Football is indeed a cruel mistress.

  10. Sea of Dead // February 17, 2017 at 11:00 am //

    I understand the decision … Big ‘D’ wasn’t the same player after the patella injury and was often the weak link on the OL recently but he was a rock on the Cat OL for many years before that.

    Sorry to see him go this way. I too hope that he comes back to retire as a Cat. He deserves that level of respect from club management/ownership. Perhaps there is a Cat OL coaching opportunity in his future. We need to keep a person like him involved with the team and in Hamilton after he retires.

  11. How many sleeps till the first Argo game? 🙂

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