Allen ready to show off his skills

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

Damon Allen is armed and ready.

The future Hall of Famer heads up a cast of quarterbacks from the nine Canadian Football League teams participating in a challenge of skills at York University today in support of Kids Help Phone. The event runs from noon to 4 p.m.

At 41, Allen will be the oldest person in the competition. He proved last year age is not an issue because he overcame a broken leg at mid-season and led the Argos to a Grey Cup victory, earning most valuable player honours in the process.

"My vision in doing this was to first of all allow the fans to have a great appreciation for the quarterbacks in the Canadian Football League and their skill level," he said yesterday. "An event like this also gives the guys a chance to display their skill levels and in a sense to be recognized across the league when they are going to other cities. It's a chance to get to know who's who and all that.

"Hopefully we can impact communities using the quarterback position and players across the league. It's a fun thing. Fans so often want to play catch with quarterbacks and hopefully this can be the springboard for years to come.

"In the future I want to have (retired) quarterbacks such as (Tracy Ham, Matt Dunigan, Kent Austin, Joe Paopao, Russ Jackson and Ronnie Lancaster) if they can throw in one event."

Allen addressed the speculation about the Argos courting Ricky Ray, a former Edmonton Eskimos quarterback who has cleared waivers in the National Football League after a season on the practice roster with the New York Jets. Ray, 25, led the Eskimos to a Grey Cup win in 2003.

"At this point I'm under contract to the Argos and I've seen guys come and go in this league for 20 years and so a guy returning don't scare anybody," he said. "Just because he's released doesn't mean he's coming back to the CFL. When you're in your 21st year, you're always going to be pushed to the limits to see how much longer you're going to play.

"I'm still an impact player."

Meanwhile, the B.C. Lions' Casey Printers and the Argos' Michael Bishop have had to pull out of the quarterback competition. Printers is with his mother, who is undergoing surgery, while Bishop couldn't free himself from a commitment playing with the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena league. The team plays on Sunday in Chicago and is concerned about the possibility of Bishop getting hurt.


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