Does Damon Allen belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
If it really is the "Pro Football" Hall of Fame then undoubtedly he does, as pro football's pass yardage leader. But it isn't, so I doubt this will ever happen. Over the weekend a couple of good reads along these lines took the bait. Dave Feschuk got out his calculator and made the point that, with the CFL a more pass-oriented brand of the game, Allen's numbers ought to be 6 per cent adjusted.
|Tannis Toohey/Toronto Star|
|Allen: A moment 22 years in the making.|
Good, interesting bar-stool argument, that. But by that same logic, shouldn't Mike Pringle get a bonus for playing in a league that's less "run-oriented"? Or perhaps Emmitt Smith's running numbers should be reduced? Numbers are sure funny to kick around, aren't they?
Meantime, the Globe and Mail's Stephen Brunt mutes his reaction, but scores points with this bit:
... He's doing what all of us of a certain age occasionally fantasize about — stepping back in time, knowing what we know now and having another crack at the vitality of youth.
“I'm still playing with a joy and a passion of a kid in a sandbox, trying to be competitive,” Allen said outside the visitors' dressing room, cradling the record-setting ball in his hand.
Even if that doesn't make Allen one of the best in history, it may well make him unique in the annals of professional football, and perhaps of professional sport.
One of the few U.S. columnists to take note was the Seattle Times' Steve Kelley:
It takes someone like Moon, who has taken the same road less traveled, to really appreciate what Allen has done. The CFL is the neglected stepsister of professional football. It gets little coverage in the states and is known for its quirky rules and it's wider, 110-yard long field.
But Allen's numbers are staggering by any standards. He has rushed for almost 12,000 yards. He has won four Grey Cup championships. (Moon won five straight in Edmonton) And he has remained mobile and accurate after 21 years.
I think Allen fully deserves a bust in Canton, but it's a moot point. That's America, where the champions of domestic leagues (including the NFL) are automatically anointed "world champions". Even without Canton calling, 70,000-plus yards out of that now-grandfatherly arm amounts to about 40 miles, or 65 kilometres. That's a lot of real estate. That's something special.
It looks even moreso, too, going back in time. Allen's debut CFL start came on October 12, 1985 stepping in for a sore-armed Matt Dunigan against the Montreal Concordes (remember them?). For a link to a pdf of page 1 of The Star's sports section and the game report from the following day (in the middle of the Jays' first trip to the AL playoffs and the Leafs still buried in the Ballard years) go here (via Pages of the Past).
Oh, and if you haven't yet, Morgan Campbell delivered a fine Allen profile over the weekend. Worth a read.