Allen is most outstanding, hands down

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 5:25 PM ET

I don't get a vote for the CFL's individual player awards, but if I did, I'd vote for Damon Allen as the league's most outstanding player.

The Toronto quarterback has never won the MOP award in his 21-year career, and while it's not supposed to be a lifetime achievement award, in Allen's case I'd be willing to make an exception.

The thing is, you don't have to go back over two decades to make a case for the grandfather of CFL quarterbacks.

Just go back to last weekend.

In a head-to-head matchup with Montreal's Anthony Calvillo, Allen easily out-gunned the Als pivot, completing 32 of 40 passes for 414 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-23 Toronto rout.

The 42-year-old leads the league with 31 touchdown passes and has tossed just 14 interceptions, both better numbers than Calvillo and Ricky Ray of Edmonton, his two main quarterback competitors.

Allen's other competition? B.C. pivot Dave Dickenson, who's been hurt far too much, and Saskatchewan's Corey Holmes, a fantastic kick returner but just a part-time running back.

It's no contest, and if you don't believe me, listen to former Winnipeg Blue Bomber great Ken Ploen, who continues to follow the CFL closely and knows an MOP when he sees one.

"I don't give a (crap) whether he's 42 or 22, if he doesn't win it this year, I don't know who in the hell will," Ploen said yesterday. "(Calvillo) looked like an amateur in that contest between the two of them. Damon Allen did everything except drive the bus. He is something else as an athlete. My god, he threw for four touchdowns in that game and he ran for 56 yards. It's unbelievable ... doing what he's doing today."

Then there's the career stuff.

Allen holds virtually every passing record in the book. He's the all-time leader in career yards, completions and touchdowns. He's rushed for 1,000 yards in a season (1991), more than 11,000 in his career -- again, an all-time high for quarterbacks.

He's been an all-star in the East and an all-star in the West.

He's won four Grey Cups with three different teams: Edmonton in '87 and '93, B.C. in 2000 and Toronto last year. He was the offensive player of the game in the 1987 championship, the most valuable player in the '93 and '04 Cups.

But there's always been a Doug Flutie or an Allen Pitts, a Danny McManus or a Milt Stegall -- a player you just couldn't deny was more outstanding in that particular season -- to wrestle the MOP honour from Allen's hands.

This year, there isn't.

Allen has always had his critics. He throws too many interceptions. He's inconsistent. He's lackadaisical. He takes more time count penalties than anybody.

For much of his career, the criticisms have been valid. His career completion percentage was a decidedly underwhelming 55.7% going into 2005.

This year, it's a stellar 64.6%. And his overall efficiency rating of 102.9 is second only to Dickenson.

He's also run for another 405 yards and three more majors.

After coming back from a broken leg to lead the Argos to a Grey Cup last season, he has them in first place with a 10-6 record, something he has no business doing against defensive players barely half his age.

There will be those who'll point to Calvillo's gaudy yardage total, which could approach 6,000 again by the time the season's over. Or to Ray's success without a decent running back most of the year. Or even to Dickenson's sparkling numbers before he got hurt.

As former Goldeyes manager Doug Simunic would say, "Whoopee-do."

To do what Allen's done, at 42 -- what could be more outstanding than that?

Contact Paul at pfriesen@wpgsun.com or 632-2788.


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