Rocky Dipietro - Slotback - 1978-91 - University of Ottawa
A hardnosed kid from Sault Ste. Marie with the ability to catch a football – that was the basis for Rocky Dipietro to carve out a hall of fame career in the Canadian Football League. There are big name U.S. football colleges and there are big name Canadian football universities that provide talent to professional football. For Rocky Dipietro it was his determination that took him from senior football in Sault Ste. Marie to the University of Ottawa and then to the Canadian Football League. Dipietro was signed as a territorial exemption in 1978 by the Hamilton Tiger Cats. While not much was expected from Dipietro considering his football pedigree it was his dedication to the craft that quickly became evident first with the coaches in Hamilton and ultimately opposing coaches. With good size and great hands Dipietro became one the leagues most durable and consistent receivers for 14 seasons.
Rocky Dipietro came to work for 14 seasons with Hamilton, not afraid to go over the middle to make the tough catch to sustain drives and get the difficult yards, Dipietro excelled where other receivers feared contact. After a junior and senior football career in Sault Ste. Marie, Rocky DiPietro went on to university football with the Ottawa Gee Gee's and from there training camp with Hamilton in 1978. Dipietro contributed well in his first season with over 400 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns. He enjoyed his best season in 1982 with 1,160 yards receiving on 85 catches for 5 touchdowns. He was named the leagues Most Outstanding Canadian in 1982. Dipietro had his second 1,000 yard season in 1984 with 1,063 yard receiving, Hamilton would advance to the Grey Cup but be humiliated 47-17 by Winnipeg. Dipietro did have a 40 yard touchdown reception in the loss. Hamilton would win the Grey Cup in 1986 39-15 over Edmonton, Dipietro contributed with 1,087 receiving yards and was runner-up for Most Outstanding Canadian player.
Rocky won his 2nd and final Most Outstanding Canadian award in 1989, at the age of 33 he had 884 yard receiving and 2 touchdowns to win the honour. Hamilton advanced to the Grey Cup in 1989 but were defeated by Saskatchewan in a classic CFL contest. Rocky had 5 catches for 54 yards in the 44-40 defeat.
He became the CFL's all-time pass reception leader in 1989 (since surpassed) and had a career total 706 receptions for 9,762 yards and 45 touchdowns when he retired prior to the 1992 season. He holds Tiger-Cat team records for most career pass receptions and reception yards. He was named an All-Eastern All-Star four times in 1981, 1982, 1986, and 1989, and an All-Canadian in 1986 and 1989. He captured the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian award in 1982 and 1989 and was the Lew Hayman Trophy Eastern division Outsranding Canadian in 1982, 1986, and 1989. DiPietro played in four Grey Cup games and won the Championship in 1986. Known for being a player who could make a catch in heavy traffic and then hang on to the ball after being hit, DiPietro was a key performer for Hamilton as a non-import at both slotback and wide receiver.
Dipietro personified hard working football and was a fan favorite in a blue collar town that appreciates an honest day's work.He was elected into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame on September 20, 1997. He is also enshrined on the Tiger-Cats Walk of Fame at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium.
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