Allen stands alone on top

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

HAMILTON -- For once, and maybe forever, Damon Allen stands alone.

There may be no catching him.

Every time he throws a football, every time another catch is made, he becomes ever more the legend, creating further separation between himself and every other quarterback who has ever played.

Last night, it was see you later, Warren Moon.

Two years ago, it was buh-bye Dan Marino.

Nobody even playing the game today is close when it comes to career passing yardage. No-body.

"You just enjoy the celebration," the soft-spoken Allen said on the night he became the career leading passer in professional football history. 'I don't think I'll fully appreciate all this until I'm done."

And he isn't done yet. Not even close. The standard is his and the standard is now on an expanding scale.

Brett Favre is entering what should be his final NFL season as the only active quarterback anywhere near him. And he's 18,000 yards behind. Danny McManus, No. 6 on the list, is finishing up as backup in Calgary. Anthony Calvillo, who looks close to done, is six seasons away from even being a contender.

The others from the Top 10: Doug Flutie, John Elway, Ron Lancaster, Fran Tarkenton, all legends themselves, all behind Allen now, all of different eras.

They stopped a rather horrible football game last night -- no Labour Day Classic this was -- to acknowledge and applaud Allen's new found status at Ivor Wynne Stadium. They stopped it after Allen's underhand shovel pass -- a gimmicky play for a sometimes gimmicky quarterback -- to Arland Bruce resulted in a 29-yard touchdown pass, thus pushing Allen past his hero, Moon, on the career passing list.

An on-field official asked Bruce for the ball to present to Allen. Bruce, thinking it was a running play, declined. "Arland didn't want to give it up," Allen said.

They stopped the game and the Ticats cooperated and stopped playing. It was 5-3 Argos as the record-setting pass was completed for a touchdown to give Toronto a nine-point lead. The score from that point on: Toronto 28, Hamilton 3.

But before the game got ridiculous, it was moving. "I was floored," Argos coach Pinball Clemons said . "I was emotional. I was happy. One of the most amazing moments I've ever had during a football game."

Even the fans of Hamilton, who pay well to watch the most dreadful team in recent memory and have to remember the Damon Allen who once played quarterback here, still had the gumption to stand and applaud a quarterback they once booed out of town.

All was forgotten and forgiven here last night. So much seems forgotten as Allen finds way to weave his career not just around CFL history, but around pro football history as well.

The number is now seventy thousand, five hundred and ninety six.

It is a number so immense it forces one to stop and and ponder. That's 13 full seasons of nothing but 300-yard games. That's more than 5,000 completed passes. That's breathtaking.

This does not in any way suggest than Allen is greatest quarterback to ever play, only the most prolific. Maybe the most remarkable. An athlete good enough to be top 15 among rushers in either league. Now a quarterback with a number that may never be caught.

The Argos are Allen's sixth team, seventh if you count two stops in Edmonton. He played for a Rough Riders team in Ottawa that no longer exists and a Mad Dogs team in Memphis that barely lasted a season. He played a season in Hamilton and a lifetime in Vancouver and the past four amazing seasons in Toronto: Almost the only athlete anyone can remember who has gotten better in his 40s.

And he isn't like a lot of old record-breakers, just hanging on to make his mark. He was the best player in the CFL last season. Right now, he might be that again.

"What comes to mind is Satchel Paige," said the coach/historian, Clemons, late last night. "At 43, after being kept out of the major leagues, Satchel Paige was the rookie of the year (actually, he was the oldest rookie in history). Satchel went on and pitched until he was 60."

"I'm going to keep playing," Allen said . "I play with a joy and a passion. I still feel like I can be a dominant player."


Videos

Photos