Allen was a presence in the Falcons’ locker room and the team’s 2019 Walter Payton Award nominee. He also won the Pro Football Writers of America’s Good Guy award as the player who best helped the local media in 2017.
He was a football survivor after being cut as a rookie in 2014. He went to the practice squad and fought his way back to the league.
In 2015, Dan Quinn’s staff converted him to free safety, and he started 76 of 77 games before he was released last offseason by the new regime.
Allen enjoyed his time with the Falcons.
“That’s something that I’m grateful for,” Allen said recently before the Super Bowl. “I was able to grow. I was able to build. They took the time to develop me. We got to go from not being a high-quality team, not a very good team at one point in time to getting a chance to play in the Super Bowl and almost two Super Bowls in a row.”
Allen suffered an Achilles injury early in the 2018 season, and the defense collapsed.
“Then things got a little rough. ... But I was able to grow as a man,” Allen said. “Grow as a human being. Grow as a player.”
The backslide continue in 2019, and after Quinn was fired five games into the 2020 season, Allen didn’t want any part of a new rebuild.
“I wasn’t ready to restart from ground zero again at a place where I had already worked up from the bottom before,” Allen said. “I knew that the new coaching staff was going to come in with not very much respect for me. That (is) kind of just how it goes when you are bringing in a new staff.
“I was kind of ready to go somewhere else and do something different, too. I got that opportunity. I never voiced that to anyone, but it came in free agency. It was kind of perfect timing for me and my family.”
Allen, with the Bengals, played 11 snaps on special teams in the AFC title game against Kansas City and played nine snaps on special teams in the Super Bowl 56 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Allen, who is from Daytona Beach, Florida, played in 50 career games at Purdue. He was highly productive as he finished with 250 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 13 interceptions and four interceptions returned for touchdowns.
“Purdue was a special place,” Allen said. “It’s the reason I believe I was as polished and as sharp as I am. Coming from Daytona Beach, I can tell you that my education wasn’t the best. Going up to Purdue kind of challenged everything that I kind of knew in the sense how I was raised and stuff like that. It was a culture shock.
“Just being able to go up to Purdue and challenge yourself as a true student-athlete was really cool. Just being one of the guys who represents the Purdue badge always on the big screen just showed that we had high-quality players coming out from there year in and year out; it’s just been a blessing.”
Allen, who used to sit in on the offensive meetings, has said that he wanted to get in to coaching when he retired.
Allen has envisioned climbing the coaching ranks to become an offensive coordinator before becoming a head coach. Allen has previously stated his desire to coach offense because he understands where the weaknesses are on the defensive side of the ball.
“I’m not afraid of the future,” Allen said.
The Bow Tie Chronicles