Blast from the past

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:28 AM ET

Turning back the clock by 14 years, Damon Allen quietly strode onto the Edmonton Eskimos practice field yesterday.

The former Green and Gold pivot made an unpublicized return to his old home yesterday, chatting with former teammates and reliving memories.

"It is kind of unique. You reflect on where you started from.

"To watch the Green and Gold practise on the same field (I did), the equipment guy (Dwayne Mandrusiak) is still the same and you see (former teammates) Rick Worman and (Danny) Kepley, it makes it special," said Allen.

In the city for Craig Simpson's golf tournament today, Allen is comfortable with his decision to retire in the off-season from the CFL after 23 years.

There is no plan to come out of retirement, even though he appears to still be in great shape at 45.

"As of right now, I am not doing what Brett Favre is doing," quipped Allen. "You don't have to worry about that."

Watching the CFL as a fan for the first time in more than two decades, Allen provides unique insight after being in the line of fire since 1985.

"The offences have really turned the corner and found ways to attack the defensive teams," said Allen on the wide-open offensive play this season.

LINEBACKER PLAY

"If you look back at 2005, 2006 and 2007, everybody asked: 'What was the difference?' I always thought the difference was the linebacker play.

"Now you have linebackers that are actually slash DBs, they can get into coverage. Based on the era I played in, it used to be three big linebackers.

"You could throw behind them, in front of them, right beside them.

"Now these guys are much better, especially in dropping and reacting to footballs much better.

"But I think offences have turned the corner (this year) and found ways to make the game exciting again."

Allen played six seasons in Edmonton (1985-88 and 1993-94) and passed for 12,466 yards as an Eskimo.

That puts him sixth on the all-time yardage list with the club.

It also means that three of the top eight passers in Edmonton's franchise history - Ricky Ray, Jason Maas and Allen - were at practice yesterday.

DIDN'T PICK UP BALL

But much to the chagrin of some bystanders, Allen didn't pick up a ball and put the offence through its paces for one drill yesterday.

Instead, he discussed future business possibilities while watching from the sidelines.

One of his ideas is to possibly bring his Quarterback Challenge TV show to Edmonton in the near future.

Staged at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium before this season and broadcast on The Score, the challenge involves the big-name quarterbacks in the league going through passing and agility drills.

The all-time passing leader in professional football might have better luck drawing a bigger crowd for his show in his old home with the Eskimo marketing machine adding some help.

FINISH LINES: Allen didn't stay for the entire practice yesterday, which was likely a good thing because the Green and Gold didn't impress the coaching staff with their effort.

Head coach Danny Maciocia walked off the field with a very simple message for his troops.

"Practise harder, come to work (and) be serious, play the way we are capable of playing," he said.


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