Argos' Allen simply amazes

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

Age really is a matter of relativity.

Damon Allen, who recently turned 42, is constantly being reminded of his age, which clearly irks the legendary quarterback.

It is an age when many athletes have either long since retired or are drawing precipitously close to that point.

And then there is Allen, who has been described by his coach, Pinball Clemons, as both a legend and an athletic freak. He practises with the same youthful exuberance as someone half his age, clowning around at times like a kid.

Moreover, the manner in which he plays the game defies description and sound logic. In this his 21st season in professional football, all in the Canadian Football League, Allen is on his way to potentially his best season in terms of passing yards.

He has 1,768 in six games, which would amount to 5,244 based on a full, 18-game schedule.

The most he has totalled in any of his previous 20 seasons is 4,840 in 2000, the year he set CFL records for most career passing attempts, most pass completions and most passing yards. It also was the year he led his team, the B.C. Lions, to a Grey Cup victory.

Allen had been on his way to his best game in the CFL on Monday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers when he had to exit with an ankle injury with 2:50 to go in the third quarter. Allen had completed 20 of 24 passes for 317 yards and appeared to be in the proverbial zone. Most of the yards were produced by his receivers after they made catches. In fact, his longest completion -- and also the longest of the season by the Argos -- happened to be a 67-yarder to Robert Baker, who accounted for much of the yardage after the catch. Allen's ability to find his receivers, either on designed routes or buying added time with his feet, put his pass-catchers in position to rack up added yardage in open space.

And it wasn't just Allen's throwing that was a thing of beauty; he accumulated 50 yards on nine runs. He rarely opted to hook slide or exit out of bounds to save his body, including a well-designed play that resulted in a four-yard run in which he glided into the end zone.

It is Allen's running and passing efficiency and the overall maturation of the offence that is somewhat similar to the '97 Argos led by Doug Flutie. The ability of the receivers and Allen to understand and adjust to one another, along with the input of offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin, makes this offence somewhat akin to Flutieball in explosive potential.

Fortunately for Allen, the ankle injury is not considered too serious. Testing yesterday revealed a bone bruise, which will have him on crutches for three or four days, but all his ligaments are intact. The Argos don't practise again until Sunday and next play Aug. 12 and Allen does not expect to be sidelined for it. If he needs added healing time, the Argos have a comfort level in backup Michael Bishop, who benefitted from playing time last year while Allen recovered from a fractured tibia in the eighth game of the season.

Bishop played well in relief of Allen in the 34-27 win over Winnipeg, generating 10 points.

After last season, Allen was asked about retirement, but he just wanted to savour the team's Grey Cup win and his role as the Most Valuable Player. The Argos re-signed him in the off-season, partly because he wanted to continue playing and the ownership and management felt he deserved and earned the opportunity after what he did last year.

He is the oldest player in the league, shows no signs of his age, and is moving closer to breaking Warren Moon's career record of 70,553 passing yards in 23 seasons, the first six in the CFL. Allen is 4,545 shy of the mark, and has a good chance of breaking it early next season, which he fully intends to play.

If you were doing what he's doing, retirement would probably be the last thing on your mind.


Videos

Photos