GMs sure Damon will get in

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:03 PM ET

VANCOUVER — There is respect for Damon Allen’s prolific football career among Canadian Football League executives and management types.

But, when it comes to the debate over whether Allen should have been voted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot — and the word “debate” is not the right one here, because there should be no heated discussion about it, at all — there is nothing in the form of vitriol.

Allen, as those who follow the CFL even at an arm’s length know, the 23-year veteran, recently was passed over by the Hall’s selection committee. This despite a career that includes the most passing yards of any player in any pro league on the planet, most rushing yards by a quarterback, four Grey Cup rings and three Grey Cup MVP awards.

Perhaps it’s because it’s something that is just accepted since it has been happened before, but the Canadian Football Hall of Fame’s refusal to recognize such a legendary player is not getting the veins popping among the CFL types who have gathered for league’s annual congress.

“The Hall has so many people to look at and I know they struggle with it every year,” Calgary Stampeders president Lyle Bauer said. “We just have to trust it. They are doing the best they can.

“People have their opinions, they lobby and push, but I think those guys have a difficult time given the number of people who can be considered. It’s a tough job.”

The notion that Allen eventually will get in does not wash. Of course he will get in. But not on first ballot? There is nothing wrong with the CFL career that Danny McManus had, but there’s no way McManus should have been honoured before Allen.

“I’m not sure how they do those things, but I think everybody is of the opinion, myself included, that it is just going to be a matter of time before Damon will get voted into the Hall of Fame,” Hamilton Tiger-Cats general manager Bob O’Billovich said. “Sometimes players get in posthumously, but Damon is a young enough guy that it is never going to be a factor for him for something like that.”

We would hope not.

If the Hall’s inability to enshrine the 47-year-old outlives Allen, then it’s a lot worse than we thought.

That’s another weird aspect of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (not, as some think, overseen by the CFL, as commissioner Mark Cohon does not know who is getting in until he is told). Even men who are decades-old veterans of the league such as O’Billovich aren’t quite sure how things work behind the Hall’s thick, metal (we presume) doors.

Toronto Argonauts head coach and general manager Jim Barker, whose association with the league is lengthy but not approaching that of O’Billovich, also is in the dark when it comes to the Hall and how people are voted in.

“I don’t know enough about the process,” Barker said. “I have no idea how it happens. I have no concept of how it works.

“(Allen) had a great career and was a great player.”

If men who are directly involved with the CFL, who earn their salaries every day trying to make the game better, don’t know much about what is going on behind closed doors at the Hall, there is no hope for fans.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would have a tough time cracking this nut.

It’s a bizarre situation at best. We’re not talking about keeping international secrets. It’s the Canadian Football Hall of Fame for heaven’s sake. Making the nomination process transparent won’t kill anybody who is involved in voting, and fans would have a true debate on their hands if the candidates were revealed months in advance.

That’s where Allen loses in this. It should be inconceivable that a player of his accomplishments and whether he should have been in the Hall right away is being discussed. Allen, who has been mostly quiet on the snub, has been dragged into a story that should not have happened in the first place.

Put it this way — had Allen been voted in on the first ballot, no one would have been arguing that he was not a deserving choice.

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

twitter/koshtorontosun


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