Award bittersweet to Allen

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- After 21 long seasons, four Grey Cup wins and six different uniforms, Damon Allen finally is the Most Outstanding Player in the Canadian Football League.

It only took forever and a few decades for the 42-year-old Allen to be recognized with the highest individual award in Canadian football.

"I don't know if it's been a long time coming," an excited Allen said. "I guess when you're nominated, you always feel it's the right time. I'm having the time of my life."

With only one thing missing this week.

"If we'd been in the Grey Cup, this would have been over the top. We just didn't come up with the right game when we needed to."

Allen, who has been a bridesmaid for this award, been left off the final ballot on more than one occasion, said he was both "humbled and honoured" to be so richly awarded at this time in his career, beating out Saskatchewan all-purpose back, Corey Holmes in the process.

"All those years I didn't think I was getting passed over," said Allen, the Argos' quarterback. "Every year, it's only one player. They only pick one player. To be that player, is something. I speak from the heart, it really means something."

It means he will be back for at least one more season with the Argos. And whether he's around for 2007, when the Argos play host to the Grey Cup, is a matter he'll deal with one year from now.

"I want to play until I can't play anymore," Allen said. "I don't want to retire too early or hang on too late. I feel as good as I've ever felt physically. So why not continue?

"We're a very competitive team. We're going to be very competitive again.

"I don't know if I can play until 2007 but I didn't know I could play until I was 42. I didn't imagine winning the MVP at 42, let alone playing. I didn't count on that. It's now one year at a time."

One year at a time with a request: Allen would prefer if both fans and media would talk more about his play, less about his advancing age.

"By now, everyone knows I'm a grandfather," Allen said. "So why do you have to keep saying it over and over? I laugh about it now. (He didn't always) I don't really get upset. My brother said, learn to embrace it."

Allen, also named the Fans' Choice Award winner, was the only Argo honoured last night. The other Toronto nominees -- linebackers Michael Fletcher (defensive) and Kevin Eiben (Canadian) and kicker Noel Prefontaine (special teams) -- watched as the Western nominees took their respective trophies.


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