Dyakowski signs contract extension, ponders baby names

JohnWayne Rambo Dyakowski.

That’s the moniker Peter Dyakowski, Hamilton Tiger-Cats offensive lineman and the man once anointed as Canada’s Smartest Person, wants to foist on his firstborn child, due this July.

“It’s all one word so if it’s a boy, he has to go by either ‘JohnWayne’ or ‘Rambo,’” Dyakowski said. “But my wife said ‘no.’”

Dyakowski had better luck finding consensus with his employer, agreeing to a contract extension on Wednesday that should, if all goes well, keep him in the Black and Gold through 2017. The 31-year-old is entering his tenth season and is the longest-tenured Ticat on the roster with 118 starts in 132 games. He was an East Division All-Star in 2012 and the team’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2011.

But a torn patella in the 2013 Grey Cup game – and a pulmonary embolism during his recovery that could have killed him – put his career in doubt. Dyakowski figured he’d make it back but whether he’d be the same player was an open question.

Now, after a rock-solid 2015 in which he played in all 18 games, Dyakowski says the year of rehab turned out to be something of blessing.

“It forced me to go to another level in my training and I think having most of a season to focus on recovery was good for my body overall,” he said.

The extension makes sense for the Ticats, too. With Canadian offensive lineman at a premium, the team now has starters Dyakowski, fellow guard Ryan Bomben and centre Mike Filer locked up to long-term deals. They also have youngster Mathieu Girard signed through 2018.

Dyakowski, a native of Vancouver, now considers himself the product of two hometowns, having added Hamilton after nearly ten years of full-time residency. As one of the team’s most recognizable faces – the successful stint on a CBC television game show and less productive appearance on Jeopardy! certainly helped – he’s become part of the community’s social fabric, something that bodes well for his life after football.

Yet he’s trying hard not to obsess about what comes next, choosing instead to appreciate the time he has left in the game.

“As the years go on, you’d expect football to play a lesser role in my life as other things come up but it’s actually been the opposite as I’ve understood the demands of being a successful professional,” Dyakowski said. “You can only play football once – there’s no coming back to it as mid-life career change. You have to make the most of it.”

His life view is likely to change again in July when his first child is born – they don’t know the baby’s gender – but he says he feels ready for experience (or as ready as you can be, anyway.) And if the kid ends up with a more conventional name, that’s fine too, though he’s hoping to sneak another wildcard into the list of potentials.

“Star Dreamer.”