Allen still has the desire

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:37 PM ET

At age 43 and a grandfather, on the surface it would seem Damon Allen is a natural candidate for retirement.

On the other hand, Allen's wife Desiree recently added a newborn to the family and the veteran quarterback believes he still has another Grey Cup run in him.

Allen used the occasion of the Argos hiring of offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto yesterday to emphatically make his pitch to return to the Boatmen.

"The only thing I can say is I've expressed the direction in which I want to go and now it's in their corner," Allen said at a press conference to introduce Buratto. "My desire is to stay in Double Blue and finish off my career in Toronto. This is where I live, this is where I want to play football."

Whether the team feels the same way will be decided over the next two months. If Allen isn't re-signed by Feb. 15, he would be eligible for free agency.

Argos president Keith Pelley said yesterday that the quarterback situation is the team's off-season priority.

There is Allen's future to decide plus that of backup Michael Bishop, who would have to abandon his Arena Football League plans to return to the Argos.

Then there is former B.C. Lion and current Kansas City Chief practice roster player Casey Printers, who the Argos would love to acquire should he become a free agent.

"It's going to be a decision that is made as a group," Pelley said. "We wanted to have an offensive co-ordinator in place first. Now that we have that, we'll turn our attention to the quarterback position."

Buratto, who ran the Lions offence when Printers was the CFL's outstanding player in 2004, rejoins Argos general manager Adam Rita and defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler. The troika worked together in B.C. in 2000 where Allen was quarterback of the Grey Cup winning squad.

On the subject of Allen's future, though, Buratto was vague.

"That's not part of my job," said Buratto, 63, a veteran of 26 years coaching in the CFL. "If (Argos management) think Damon's got another year, he will come to training camp and compete.

"Is he the same as he was when he was 29 (years old)? No. On his best days is he as good as there is in the league? I think there's an argument for that."

Buratto spoke glowingly of the work Bishop did late this season and of Printers, who the Argos are expected to pursue should the Chiefs release him this off-season.


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