Damon Allen

Last updated
Damon Allen
2019, Damon Allen.jpg
Damon Allen at an Argonauts game in 2019.
Born: (1963-07-29) July 29, 1963 (age 57)
San Diego, California
Career information
CFL status American
Position(s) QB
Height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight180 lb (82 kg)
College Cal State Fullerton
High school Lincoln (San Diego, California)
Hand Right
Career history
As player
19851988 Edmonton Eskimos
19891991 Ottawa Rough Riders
1992 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
19931994 Edmonton Eskimos
1995 Memphis Mad Dogs
19962002 BC Lions
20032007 Toronto Argonauts
Career highlights and awards
CFL All-Star 2005
CFL East All-Star 2005, 1991
CFL West All-Star 1999
Awards 1987 Grey Cup MVP (Offence)
1993 Grey Cup MVP
1993 Eddie James Memorial Trophy
2004 Grey Cup MVP
2005 CFL MOP
Career stats
Passing Comp5,158
Passing Att9,138
Passing Yards72,381
Passing TDs394
  • Playing stats at CFL.ca (archive)

Damon Allen (born July 29, 1963) is a former professional quarterback who played in the Canadian Football League. He is currently fourth in all-time professional football passing yards and second in all-time CFL passing yards after he was surpassed for first place by the Montréal Alouettes' Anthony Calvillo on October 10, 2011. [1] He is pro-football's combined passing & rushing leader with a total of 84,301 yards. Allen retired as professional football's all-time leading passer with 72,381 passing yards after he surpassed Warren Moon's total of 70,553 yards (in both the CFL and NFL combined) on September 4, 2006 in the annual Labour Day Classic. [2] [3] He also retired in third place in all-time CFL rushing yards with 11,920 yards, behind Mike Pringle and George Reed. The 2007 season marked Allen's twenty-third season in the CFL and he officially announced his retirement on May 28, 2008 at age 44. Allen is the younger brother of Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen.


Allen has been mentioned as one of the greatest CFL quarterbacks of all time after winning four Grey Cups with three different teams. He also was a three time Grey Cup MVP. In 2005, he was the CFL Most Outstanding Player at 42 years old, becoming the second oldest MVP of any North American sports franchise (oldest is Gordie Howe of the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association, MVP at age 46 in 1974). He was a formidable passer and rusher, as he retired only 323 rushing yards behind his brother Marcus. In 2012, he was elected into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

In May 2010, Allen launched the Damon Allen Quarterback Academy, in which he personally teaches the skills and strategies of quarterbacking to students of all ages and skill levels. [4]

Personal life

Damon has three daughters and a son. They live in Oakville, Ontario. [5] Damon is employed as special assistant to the General Manager of the Toronto Argonauts.

Early years

Allen started playing football by the age of six for Valencia Park's Pop Warner in San Diego. Allen played safety on defense. In the Junior Peewee league, in his first year as a quarterback, Allen's team won the championships. This was followed by two undefeated seasons, and winning the Junior Peewee league title for three years in a row.

High school

In high school, Damon Allen was a fine two sport athlete. In football he was the starting quarterback at Lincoln High School. He had a 22-2 record as starting quarterback at Lincoln High. Allen was a first team all-CIF player and Tribune Athlete of the Year. He led his team to consecutive 2A Division CIF Football Championships In baseball, Allen was a pitcher with a record of 14-2, and his Lincoln High baseball team was rated #1 in San Diego County with a record of 24-4. He was a First team All-CIF Utility Man which also made him Tribune Athlete of the Year in his senior year.

College career

Damon went on to play college football for California State University, Fullerton. There, Allen led the Titans to two Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA) championships. He also broke a 26-year-old NCAA record throwing only three passes that were intercepted, in over 300 attempts [6] and broke seven school records. He was a first team PCAA quarterback, and was named the UPI All West Coast team quarterback along with UNLV's Randall Cunningham.

Allen was sixteenth in overall voting for the 1984 Heisman Trophy. He also played in the Senior Bowl college All-Star game (completing 6 for 8 passes for 50 yards, 1 touchdown, and rushing for 20 yards on 3 carries).

Allen was not only an outstanding football player, he was also a superior baseball player. He helped his Titans' baseball team win the 1984 College World Series, leading his team to a regular season record of 66-20 as a pitcher. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 1984 Major League Baseball Draft in the seventh round, [7] the same year the Tigers won the Major League Baseball World Series. Allen never signed a professional, major league baseball contract with the Tigers, but did sign one with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1993. Allen reported to the Pirates' spring training camp in 1994, but ultimately left their camp and decided to play in the Canadian Football League.

College career statistics

NCAA Collegiate Career statistics
Cal State Fullerton Titans
NCAA Career Totals3226294218271126943510

Professional career

Edmonton Eskimos

Allen joined the CFL as a free-agent in 1985, signed by the Edmonton Eskimos, and threw for 661 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season as a back-up to Matt Dunigan. In the 1987 season, Allen played in the Grey Cup championship game, replacing the injured starter Dunigan, and led the Eskimos to a Grey Cup victory, defeating the Toronto Argonauts 38-36, at Vancouver's BC Place Stadium. His first Grey Cup win, Allen earned Grey Cup Most Valuable Player honours in the championship.

Damon Allen as a Rider. Damon Allen Ottawa.jpg
Damon Allen as a Rider.

Ottawa Rough Riders

In 1989, Allen signed with the Ottawa Rough Riders. In 1991, Allen was named an Eastern Division All-Star for the first time in his CFL career. During the 1991 season, Allen rushed for a career-high 1,036 yards and 8 touchdowns in 18 games, and passed for a then career-high 4,275 yards with 24 touchdowns.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

In 1992, Allen signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In 18 games, Allen threw for 3,858 and 19 touchdowns, and rushed for 850 yards and 7 touchdowns, in his only season in "Steeltown." After the 1992 season, Allen was traded to the Edmonton Eskimos.

Edmonton Eskimos

In 1993, in his second time around with Edmonton, Allen helped the Eskimos to victory in the Grey Cup game, winning his second title, and was named Grey Cup Most Valuable Player in a 33-23 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In 1994, Allen led the Esks to the Western Division Semi-Finals, only to lose to the BC Lions.

Memphis Mad Dogs

In 1995, Allen signed as a free-agent with the Memphis Mad Dogs. He appeared in 15 games with the CFL expansion team, and threw for 3,211 yards and 11 touchdowns on 228 of 390 passing. Allen also rushed for 427 yards in his only professional season in the United States.

BC Lions

In 1996, Allen joined the BC Lions.

In 1999, Allen was voted to the CFL's West Division All-Star team. He threw for 4,219 yards on 315 of 521 passing with 22 touchdowns, ran the ball 136 times for 785 yards and 8 touchdowns, and threw for more than 300 yards on five occasions.

Damon Allen and teammate Lui Passaglia with the Grey Cup in January 2001 Lui Passaglia and Damon Allen with Grey Cup.jpg
Damon Allen and teammate Lui Passaglia with the Grey Cup in January 2001

In 2000, Allen became the CFL's all-time leading passer on October 28 against Hamilton, throwing for 345 yards to surpass Ron Lancaster's previous record of 50,535 yards. Allen completed 324 of 525 passes (61.7%) to lead the CFL with a career-high 4,840 passing yards. Allen was nominated as the Lions' Most Outstanding Player at the CFL Player Awards. Allen captured his first Grey Cup with the Lions (third of his career) throwing for 234 yards in a win over the Montreal Alouettes.

Toronto Argonauts

In 2003, after the acquisition of Dave Dickenson as their new quarterback, the 39-year-old Allen was traded from the BC Lions to the Toronto Argonauts for a second-round draft pick in the 2004 CFL Draft, and a third-round pick in the 2005 CFL Draft. Allen's Argonaut re-debut was a 20-18 season- opening loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders that also marked Allen's 300th regular season game of his CFL career. In Week 7, Allen became only the third quarterback in professional football history to pass for 60,000 yards against his former club, the BC Lions. In a Week 17 loss to the Ottawa Renegades, Allen completed 20 of 39 pass attempts for 203 yards, with 2 interceptions and 1 touchdown, giving Allen 334 career touchdown passes, and surpassing Ron Lancaster for the most career touchdown passes in CFL history. Allen would lead the Argos to the Eastern Division Final that year as well.

In Week 9 of the 2004 season versus Montreal, Allen exited the game in the third quarter with a fractured left tibia, and spent Weeks 10-16 on the injured reserve roster. There was considerable concern that Allen, at 41 years of age, would never come back from such a severe injury, but he did. In Week 17, Allen dressed as the third quarterback (behind Michael Bishop and Romaro Miller) for a game against the BC Lions. In Week 18, Allen dressed as the backup quarterback behind Michael Bishop and entered the game versus the Calgary Stampeders at the end of the second quarter. Allen completed his first thirteen pass attempts, making him the second quarterback in Argonaut history (Mike Rae, 17 of 17 versus Montreal, August 12, 1975) to complete more than 12 passes consecutively in a game. Allen finished the game with 18 of 23 pass completions, and his 82.6% completion percentage ranks fourth in Argo history for a single game.

In the 2004 Grey Cup Championship against the BC Lions, Allen was named Grey Cup Most Valuable Player for third time in his legendary career. Allen led the Argos to their fifteenth Grey Cup Championship and won his fourth championship. Allen finished the game with 23 of 34 pass completions for 299 yards (longest gain, 34 yards) and 1 touchdown pass, and rushed 5 times for 10 yards (longest gain, 5 yards) and 2 rushing touchdowns.

Allen continued his assault on the record books during the 2005 CFL season. On October 27, 2005, Damon reached the 5,000-yard passing plateau for the first time in his 21-year CFL career by posting a 34-11 victory against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The win guaranteed Toronto a first-place finish in the CFL East plus home field advantage in the playoffs. The game took place before 40,085 fans; the largest crowd for a CFL game in Toronto since 1992. However, the Argonauts were defeated 33-17 in the 2005 East Final by the Montreal Alouettes, thereby thwarting their hopes of repeating their 2004 Grey Cup win.

In 2005, Allen won his first CFL's Outstanding Player Award. In that year, he also hosted the inaugural "Damon Allen Quarterback Challenge" which featured top CFL quarterbacks participating in various skill competitions. In the Quarterback Challenge's second year, Allen won the event.

In 2006, Allen started the opening home game of the season against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and broke the middle finger on his right hand on Toronto's third play. Allen was injured trying to break his fall after taking a late hit from Hamilton safety Wayne Shaw, who was penalized on the play. Allen missed nearly a month and a half of action with a broken finger, returning on July 29 vs. the BC Lions.

A banner hangs in the Rogers Centre to commemorate Allen breaking the All-Time Pro-Football Passing Record in 2006. Damon Allen banner.jpg
A banner hangs in the Rogers Centre to commemorate Allen breaking the All-Time Pro-Football Passing Record in 2006.

On September 4, 2006, at the Labour Day Classic against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Allen broke Warren Moon's record (70,553 yards) to become professional football's all-time passing leader. The record-setting completion, a 29-yard shovel pass to wide receiver Arland Bruce III, took place at 5:02 of the third quarter. The game was suspended briefly for a presentation by CFL Commissioner Tom Wright. Allen's triumphant pose with the record-breaking football was captured by a photographer and later released by the Argos as a commemorative poster on their website.

In November, 2006 was voted one of the CFL's Top 50 players (#14) of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network The Sports Network/TSN.

On January 18, 2007 Damon underwent successful surgery to repair the middle finger of his (right) throwing hand and was back in the gym training, in less than 24 hours.

On February 28, 2007 Allen re-signed a contract with the Argonauts for one year plus an option .

Allen started the 2007 season as the Argos starting quarterback beating out Michael Bishop and former NFL starter Mike McMahon. However, he was replaced in the third quarter of the first game by Bishop despite having gone 14-18, 130 yards and a touchdown. Allen was then bumped down to third on the depth chart. However, after Bishop went down with a wrist injury and McMahon failed to impress, Allen stepped into the starting role once again. However, in his first game back as starter he injured his toe. Allen was placed on the nine-game injured list and Rocky Butler took over as the Argos starting quarterback

Allen announced that his retirement as a player on May 28, 2008, [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] but will stay with the Argos as a special advisor to CEO Pinball Clemons. [13]


In 2018, Allen was inducted into the Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. [14]

Career statistics

 Passing Rushing
1985 EDM 162984849.06613368.5361905.31853
1986 EDM 181874956.387883107.4312457.93962
1987 EDM 18628715052.32,670171385.3665628.54068
1988 EDM 1072189443.11,30941246.2331303.91315
1989 OTT 131243420948.23,093171669.6755327.15117
1990 OTT 171752827652.33,883342379.61247766.34179
1991 OTT 181854628251.64,275243168.71291,0368.04286
1992 HAM 181852326650.93,858191476.21118507.737718
1993 EDM 181640021453.53,394251092.41209207.74368
1994 EDM 181749325451.53,554191575.21207075.943711
1995 MEM 151439022858.53,211111380.6634276.82505
1996 BC 141336821959.52,772131083.5524007.73127
1997 BC 181858337864.84,653211193.51118377.52889
1998 BC 181847928258.93,519161679.01157826.82925
1999 BC 181852131560.54,219221389.91367855.830813
2000 BC 181852532461.74,840241198.4582844.93427
2001 BC 161647125153.33,631181479.0865806.745210
2002 BC 181847426856.53,987221090.9704796.82247
2003 TOR 161545026759.33,395171086.3765076.72649
2004 TOR 11931218960.62,43812492.6402125.33230
2005 TOR 171754935264.15,0823315102.7854675.52649
2006 TOR 181433519859.12,567121181.5251977.92201
2007 TOR 92674567.249230103.64153.8602
CFL totals3703049,1385,15856.472,38139427883.81,76611,9206.75193161

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  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-05. Retrieved 2011-10-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-05. Retrieved 2006-09-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Argos' Allen is football's top passer". CBC News. 2006-09-04.
  4. Damon Allen Quarterback Academy
  5. Ormsby, Mary (2007-06-16). "Damon Allen's other team comes first". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2008-12-09. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
  6. Weird Facts about Canadian Football, p.139, Overtime Books, First Printing 2009, ISBN   978-1-897277-26-3
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2008-12-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "CFL legend Damon Allen announces retirement". Toronto Argonauts Football Club. 2008-05-28. Archived from the original on 2008-05-30. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  9. "Veteran CFL quarterback Damon Allen announces his retirement". Canadian Press. 2008-05-28. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  10. Goldstein, Yoni (2008-05-28). "Yoni Goldstein on Damon Allen's amazing career". National Post. Retrieved 2008-05-28.[ permanent dead link ]
  11. Naylor, David (2008-05-28). "Allen decides to call it quits". Toronto: Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  12. Longley, Rob (2008-05-28). "Allen to quietly walk away from Argos". London Free Press. Retrieved 2008-05-28.[ dead link ]
  13. Koshan, Terry (2008-05-29). "Allen calls it a career". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  14. "2018 Induction Celebrations". Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Todd Dillon
Ottawa Rough Riders Starting Quarterbacks
Succeeded by
Tom Burgess
Preceded by
Memphis Mad Dogs Starting Quarterback
Succeeded by