Will Allen: A Football Journey

Will Allen

Talk to former Pro Bowl safety Will Allen, currently of the Dallas Cowboys and he will articulately share a great journey he has enjoyed in this great game dating back to his days at the Ohio State University. After speaking with Will earlier this week I learned why this defensive back from Wayne Ohio has bucked the odds and fulfilled a career in the National Football League.

History tells us the longevity in this collision sport at its highest level does not favor most men. It demands your best and takes everything  you’ve got inside of 4.5 years. Now entering his tenth Will shared in conversation words of “preparation” and “focus” on what lies ahead for him and his Cowboys later today in their big tilt for week 5 against Denver.

I could tell Will Allen the football player doesn’t spend much time thinking about last week or last year, his mental make up demands attention on the present. Players who allow themselves moments to reminisce about what they’ve already accomplished while still grinding are probably ones that feed into that short 4.5 average career.

That being said, I did ask Will about his life and time in football. When asked to share a few of his most memorable moments at OSU I learned his interception of Michigan quarterback John Navarre sits at the top of the list. It was the exclamation point on the undefeated season that sent the Buckeyes to Tempe Arizona that ended in the schools most recent National Championship back in 2002.

The other wasn’t really a singular moment, rather a reflection on his 4 years at Ohio State, particularly the time  most fans don’t recognize. Will talked about the work required to see it through, as a Freshman right up to Senior year. How much he cherished the college experience and what being a Buckeye meant to a kid who grew up in Ohio.

When the time came in 2004 for his dream of playing in the NFL to be realized Will had no idea when he’d be drafted but felt his worth was undervalued when his number was eventually  called at 111, the 15th selection of the fourth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Just like any athlete that lives for competition Allen would use this as motivation to fuel his desire to make his mark in the league.

A blessing in disguise for Will Allen was getting a chance to learn the NFL game from a collection of Hall of Fame players down in Tampa as well as receive tutelage from then defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin who is now regarded as one of the better young head coaches in pro football.

After his rookie contract had expired Will found himself with yet another chance to play for Tomlin. This time closer to home and with a proud franchise rich in history. The decision to become a Pittsburgh Steeler and reunite with his well-respected secondary coach was a no brainer.

Will Allen with Mike Tomlin

In his first season with Pittsburgh, Will would not only enjoy a playoff appearance but a trip to the games grandest stage. Playing in his first Super Bowl, he would reach the pinnacle of the sport, every players dream. Unfortunately this ending was not the one he had imagined. Still today and probably for the rest of his football career it’ll be the one win that got away.

When I asked what he remembered most about Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers, Will said “how fast it all went by”, which to anyone in any walk of life makes sense. All great things go by fast, we never really take the time to enjoy those  once in a lifetime moments that come our way until it’s in the rear view mirror.

Now as Will makes his way through this tenth season, as we all know, with the Dallas Cowboys, another one of those historical franchises with championship pedigree, the goal remains the same. Approach every day with professionalism and meaning. Not letting the distractions that have gotten the best of so many players before him derail the path he has forged for himself.

Finishing the job, on his terms. It’s how all athlete wish to end a career in sports filled with pride in accomplishment, and with that. Will Allen is well on his way.

you can find me on twitter @fskott