Ticat lineman with Mensa IQ hopes to win Grey Cup... and 'Jeopardy'
Winnipeg Blue Bombers Jovan Johnson (24) does a summersault over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats line after catching an interception in the first half of their CFL game in Winnipeg Saturday, November 1, 2008. Winnipeg Blue Bombers Robert Bean (25) and Hamilton Tiger-Cats Peter Dyakowski (67) follow him into the end zone. (John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, November 21, 2013 5:11PM EST
REGINA -- Hamilton offensive lineman Peter Dyakowski has already been crowned "Canada's Smartest Person." And now the six-foot-five 325-pounder with a Mensa IQ has earned an invitation to appear on "Jeopardy."
But the thing he really wants to win is Sunday's Grey Cup.
"Once I get that under my belt, then I'm going to put myself through a good trivia boot camp," the 29-year-old Dyakowski said.
But the big man with a big brain says lots of time the knowledge is already there. It's just finding it.
"Think about how much you've got stuck away in your head over the years," he asked. "'Jeopardy,' for the most past, doesn't pull questions from left field. It seems like when I watch, if you don't get it right, you slap yourself on the forehead when you hear the answer. 'Oh, I knew that, I should have gotten that.'
"So it's all about pulling that tidbit of knowledge out of the back of your brain, blurting it out and knowing that it's in there somewhere and clicking the buzzer in time and getting the answer.
"It's not so much about knowing everything in the world. It's about quick recollection."
Dyakowski won CBC TV's "Canada's Smartest Person" show in March 2012. Contestants went head-to-head in six categories of intelligence: musical, physical, social, logical, visual and linguistic.
So is Dyakowski, a seven-year CFL veteran who attended LSU on a football scholarship, really Canada's smartest person?
"He doesn't act that smart," Ticat linebacker Frederic Plesius said with a laugh. "In the bus, he likes to scream, make some noises to piss everybody off on purpose.
"But he's a cool guy. He's a leader, he's a good guy and he's an example for the team."
Paul Osbaldiston, Hamilton assistant special teams and kicking coach, also playfully wonders about how Dyakowski keeps getting smart show invites.
"We don't see that but somehow he keeps getting on there. Pete's a fun guy, he's a very good football player, he's a great character and you know what, he certainly lightens up the situations for us when we need to."
Fellow lineman Marwan Hage, a close friend, says Dyakowski's smarts are for real.
"I call Peter on a lot of advice, financial advice," he said. "Once you get through the fun part with Peter and he gets serious, when you catch him one-on-one, he's the smartest guy. Every other week I call him for some stock advice and this and that. He knows everything about everything."
Plus, Hage says his friend is a "flat-out excellent" football player.
Long snapper Kevin Scott is also a believer.
"He's a genius," Scott said of Dyakowski. "The little bits of information that you would never expect someone to know, he knows. What's the population of this city, what are the weather conditions of this city during this time of the year. You can ask him pretty much everything and he's going to tell you (the answer).
"And he's always hungry for more information. So he's always trying to learn new things. He's a different character, in the best way possible. I absolutely love him. A big-time teammate. And it's great to have him on the team. He's absolutely hilarious."
Dyakowski is more than hungry for knowledge. At Thursday's media breakfast, he was just hungry.
A couple of trays of smoothie shooters were placed by the door, a palate-cleanser if you will. While most grabbed one and kept walking, Dyakowski positioned himself by the tray and knocked back a half-dozen.
Still, one could ask why Mr. Smarty Pants opted to go to practice in the Mosaic Stadium icebox Wednesday wearing shorts. He had to return to the locker-room to add clothing.
"You'd think that planning ahead would be one of my fortes," Dyakowski admitted. "But I was maybe a little over-ambitious. I underestimated the cold and maybe overestimated my resistance to freezing."
Dyakowski is always entertaining. Asked by a reporter about the reticence of rookie running back C.J. Gable, the lineman offers some ways of breaking the ice.
"He's a kid. Get him talking about video games or candy and, oh, he can't stop talking," he suggested. "The new 'Game of Duty' (Call of Duty) for PlayStation or the 'Grand Car Stealing 5' (Grand Theft Auto V), he's all up on those.
"Just give him a bag of Reese's Pieces and Skittles and give him his PlayStation, he'll be over the moon."
Jokes aside, Dyakowski then took time to talk up Gable's football smarts.
The big man says his teammates are excited about his appearance on "Jeopardy." But that hasn't stopped them from giving him the gears, especially when he gets something wrong.
Did that actually happen, he was asked.
"Rarely," he said, playing along with the question. "This one time a few months ago."
So does he have any weak areas in 'Jeopardy?'
Contemporary interior decorators, he offers. Female authors of the 1970s.
"I'm hoping for some categories like CFL history," he adds. "Tim Hortons' pastries and British Columbia geography."
A native of Vancouver who now calls Hamilton home, Dyakowski was one of 200,000-plus people to take an online "Jeopardy" test in January. In May he got an email -- that landed in his junk mail folder -- inviting him to a July audition in Toronto.
He went after practice, did another test and then took part in a live mock game.
"So I've actually had the 'Jeopardy' clicker in my hand. That was a lot of fun."
He stumbled out of the gate, "blurting out the wrong answer when I knew the right answer." Then he went on a roll.
A couple of weeks ago, he got the call that he had made the cut and will appear on the show in April.
"It's pretty exciting but I haven't talked too much yet because the focus is on that beautiful cup over there," he said, motioning at the Grey Cup. "Once I get that, then I'm going to get in my trivia boot camp.
"I'd much rather win the Grey Cup than 'Jeopardy' but I'm being greedy and hoping for both."