Peter Dyakowski remembers the elbow-brace sleeves that his friend, and fierce opponent, Adriano Belli wore during game; and the day he stole one of them.
“I managed to rip one away from him during a scrum and I put it on, ” the 34-year-old offensive guard said Friday of his CFL retirement. “It was like I’d stolen his power. The only time I’d ever seen Adriano break character was at half time during that game when he came and nicely asked me to give it back. Of course, I said no. The next game he broke into our locker-room four hours before the game and stole it back.”
He said that the defensive opponents who left the biggest impressions on him were two who terrorized offensive lines when he first broke into the league: Former Ticat Belli with Toronto and Doug Brown with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. A few years later, he found future teammate Ted Laurent, then with Edmonton, to be the toughest challenge.
He has fond memories of his first CFL game, played at BC Place where, as a Vancouver high-schooler, he’d participated in playoff games and the 2013 Grey Cup in Regina, “which was my peak and also my lowest point. I blew out my kneecap and recovered the entire year to be on the Grey Cup field again in 2014.”
Dyakowski, who played for the Tiger-Cats from 2007-16 was released before the 2017 season, then after being a Toronto Argonaut in the off-season, finished his career with Saskatchewan that year. When the Roughriders released him he stayed in game shape and entertained offers from a number of teams, including one fairly recent one.
“But I was always coming to the realization that there wasn’t quite enough out there to justify leaving my family (wife Rachel, daughters Louise and Helena) or packing everyone up and moving them.”
Named an East Division all-star in 2012, Dyakowski is in his second term as the CFL Players Association’s treasurer, and has a number of business interests in the city. The winner of Canada’s Smartest Person on CBC-TV in 2012 says that he’d be open to eventually joining the Ticat organization in some capacity.
“I count myself extremely lucky to play 180 games in the CFL, almost all of them here, ” he said Friday. “It’s time to close the book on my CFL career and what better way to do that than to come home and sign my retirement papers as a Hamilton Tiger-Cat.”
The team paid a video tribute to Dyakowski during Saturday night’s home game against the Montreal Alouettes, and brought him onto the field to a rousing reception. He also led the crowd in an Oskee-wee-wee cheer.
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