Rick Zamperin: From the CFL to the House of Commons, Hage and Dyakowski hoping for a political touchdown

The House of Commons is pictured on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Seeing former professional athletes transition into politics is nothing new. Ken Dryden, Frank Mahovlich, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack Kemp, Steve Largent, Kevin Johnson and Jesse Ventura are just a few of the individuals who successfully made the jump from ice, gym, field, court and ring to the political arena.

But this latest case is somewhat surprising.

Former Hamilton Tiger-Cats teammates Peter Dyakowski and Marwan Hage have announced that they are running for political office.

The longtime offensive linemen kicked off their nomination campaigns for the federal Conservatives Wednesday at Tim Hortons Field, where they once roamed as professional athletes. Dyakowski is seeking the Tory nomination in the riding of Hamilton Mountain while Hage hopes to carry the ball in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek.

Story continues below advertisement

Since arriving in Hamilton (Hage in 2004, Dyakowski in 2007) both men have used their profiles as pro athletes to accomplish an incredible amount of good for local school children, charities and community organizations and say they have always shared a passion for politics.

Now, instead of talking over coffee about the machinations that occur in Ottawa — and I imagine them doing so over a few courses at their favourite all-you-can-eat buffet now and again — Dyakowski and Hage want to take their political views one step further, or more appropriately, one yard further. (I couldn’t resist.)

They have a couple of things going for them. Both men are hugely popular in the Hamilton community and their name recognition should not be ignored. Dyakowski, 34, and Hage, 37, are much younger than the incumbents in the respective ridings they plan to run in (Hamilton Mountain New Democrat MP Scott Duvall is 62 and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek Liberal MP Bob Bratina is 74) and being political neophytes, they have very little baggage.

LISTEN: Dyakowski and Hage chat with CHML’s Scott Radley

However, they would admit to having some shortcomings during their rookie seasons in the Canadian Football League and the same should apply when entering the political arena for the first time, especially when it comes to learning the playbook for a run at a seat to huddle up in the House of Commons.

Story continues below advertisement

The bigger hurdle, it seems, is the dearth of Conservative support in the ridings they have targeted. Since voters first started casting ballots in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek in 2004, there has never been a Tory MP. And the drought is even more severe in Hamilton Mountain, where the last Conservative to represent the community in Parliament was Duncan Beattie in Joe Clark’s minority government in 1979-80.

I’m a big fan of both men and I’m certain they understand that running for public office isn’t going to be as easy as pancaking a linebacker. Nevertheless, I am sure they will make the 2019 federal election campaign that much more interesting.

Sponsored content