Over the Moon?

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

At some point this season, Damon Allen will complete a pass and become the quarterback with the most yards in the history of professional football.

To put that into perspective, he will not just eclipse a long list of great Canadian Football League quarterbacks, but countless other players who put their hands on the oblong-shaped leather ball and threw in the direction of waiting hands.

The 42-year-old Allen, who quite possibly could break the record around the time of his 43rd birthday on July 29, needs only 1,231 yards to surpass Warren Moon.

Moon, selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, played for a quarter of a century. He began his pro career with six seasons in the CFL with Edmonton before heading south to the NFL.

Allen has played his entire career in the CFL, preferring not to bolt to the NFL, in which his brother Marcus starred as a running back, because he didn't want to be a backup.

Early in his career people pointed to Allen's athleticism and ability to make plays with his feet -- including rushing for 1,036 yards way back in 1991 -- but he has found a way to do it all now.

In fact, last year, he threw for over 5,000 yards for the first time in his career and was voted the CFL's Most Outstanding Player, an achievement he had never earned before. In fact, Allen also became a CFL all-star for the first time.

When you ask him about the impending record, he insists he is not even thinking about it, that his goal this year is the same as last year: Playing in every game.

"If I can accomplish that, I feel I'll give the team a good chance of winning our division and going to the Grey Cup," he said earlier this week.

Allen said when the record is near, he'll deal with it and move on, no differently than the multitude of CFL records he has broken in the past -- passing attempts, completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. The difference this time is it's the record for all of professional football.

"Once you do it, it's talked about, but then you become the record holder and you just keep playing the game," he said. "The game overrides the records. Each week I have to prepare, get my focus ready to play football and make good decisions and all those things. If we win every game, I'll be more happy about that than the record."

Allen also understands that it may take some time after he has retired to fully appreciate his accomplishments.

"All the great painters, you don't appreciate their painting and their art form and their skill until after they're gone," he said. "Picasso and all those great names that you hear, they're long gone but people are still talking about what they were able to create and do."

And the likelihood is there will not be another player who matches the combination of Allen's athletic brilliance and longevity.

"You make mention of would anybody ever play this long in the same league and the chances may be rare," he said. "Is there guys capable of breaking the record even though they haven't played as long as me? Yeah. You get on a hot streak like (Montreal's Anthony) Calvillo and in the next five years he plays and throws for 6,000 yards each year, you never know how fast he can get there."

The 34-year-old Calvillo is entering his 13th year in the professional ranks, all in the CFL, and is nearing the 45,000-yard mark.

"As long as I'm playing, you're adding numbers," Allen said. "That's why it's so important for me to play on a regular basis. I don't want to play four games, get hurt and then sit out. It wasn't fun not playing and watching."

By that he was referring to the leg fracture he suffered in 2004. He made an amazing recovery and returned to action in less than two months and led the Argos to a Grey Cup win.

"It was fun last year because I was able to play almost every game," he said. "The neat thing about playing the game of football is I don't know how many more years I'll have and so I want to enjoy every minute of it."

Allen, who played at California State-Fullerton, began as an understudy for the first two years in the league with Edmonton before becoming the starter in 1987 and leading his team to a Grey Cup victory, the first of four in his career. He went on to play with Ottawa, Hamilton, Memphis and B.C. before joining the Argos in 2003. Some would argue he has gotten better with age, playing his best football since coming to Toronto.

"It has a lot to do with the perception they have for athletic quarterbacks," Allen said. "When you talk about the athletic quarterback, no one talks about his mindset and the skill level of how he plays the game mentally. Everybody talks about his athletic prowess and what he can do on the field. When people say I'm playing better, I think they're referring to how smart I'm playing the game, too. They get into the intelligence part of that and so often in my first number of years, no one talked about my knowledge of the game. I think now I'm just getting the full gamut. People are appreciating the knowledge with which I play the game."


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