By Perry Lefko

For someone who was born and raised in the United States, Damon Allen takes pride in being inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame as one of several honoured in 2018.

Allen played 23 seasons in the Canadian Football League. His accomplishments include winning the Grey Cup four times, voted the game’s Most Valuable Player three times and voted the CFL Most Outstanding Player once.

It’s not the first time he’s been inducted into a Hall of Fame. He’s also in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the B.C. Lions Wall of Fame, Cal State Fullerton Hall of Fame and the City of San Diego Hall of Fame. But, this meant something more.

“It was kind of unique,” said Allen, who lives in Mississauga. “I always thought it was a Canadian award. It wasn’t until later that you realize that it’s for everyone. It’s something you don’t dream about or fathom when you play a sport. My whole mindset has always been about winning championships.

“That’s where all my dreams have come. The things I have envisioned were about winning championships. Whenever you get the Hall of Fame induction, it’s a whole different ball game because it puts you at a different level as a player. We know how difficult it is with the politics of being picked. I’ve played with guys that should be in the Hall of Fame and they’re not. You are also relying on individuals that are picking and selecting and don’t always know the tremendous impacts of a player who should be in.

“When you do get called, I think the number one thing you think about is all the people who have come across your journey and who have given you something that put you in those situations. It becomes more of a bigger award for everyone who helped you along the way.”

He acknowledged that all the Halls of Fame awards stemmed from playing football at the age of seven. He continued to play until retiring, 11 years ago, at the age of 44. At every level along the way he won championships and established himself as a winner.

Since retiring, he has become involved in growing amateur football. He is associated with the International Development Fast Football League, a seven-on-seven league founded by former CFL players Anthony Cannon and Jordan Younger, which uses The Athletes Matrix at Mississauga as its home base. Through it, the IDFFL has the exclusive rights to the Under Armour Under The Lights Flag Football, a co-ed program run throughout Canada for Grades 1-8.

Allen also runs a quarterback academy.

“I try to be involved in good things, things that are my passion,” he said. “And one is giving back and teaching, working with the Toronto Argonauts, speaking corporately across the country and still looking to eventually getting into coaching and a variety of different things. A lot that I do is support charities. My mission statement has everything to do with young people. I love giving back, whatever it may be. Some things I choose may be based on someone I know that is dealing with an illness or whatever it may be to support that charity.”

Allen is also involved with SlapItOn Canada, headed by sports marketer Dave Watkins, who has created a product that is an image of an athlete and their statistical background. The product is the size of a cell phone and has an adhesive backside.

“The concept is really unique because now you can just slap a picture of someone on a wall, on a promotional piece, whatever the case may be,” said Allen. “It’s cost effective and cheaper when it comes to spending marketing dollars.”