He didn’t have the cachet of his older brother, but Damon Allen also stood alone with his achievements.
Damon followed older brother Marcus, who scored five touchdowns in the 1977 San Diego Section championship game, won the Heisman Trophy at USC in 1981, was a Super Bowl MVP, and is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
The younger Allen bettered Marcus at Lincoln by winning two San Diego Section championships and quarterbacking the Hornets to a two-year record of 22-2, best in school history.
Damon also quarterbacked Cal State-Fullerton to a pair of conference championships, made all-West Coast, received votes in Heisman Trophy balloting, and completed 6 of 8 passes for 1 touchdown and rushed 3 times for 20 yards in the Senior Bowl.
He added to his football accomplishments as a pitcher on Fullerton’s 1984 College World Series championship squad that posted a 66-20 record. Allen was such a prospect that he was selected in the seventh round of the baseball draft by the Detroit Tigers.
Despite his credentials Allen went undrafted by the NFL. He was “too” (read: short, thin, other uncomplimentary adjectives) and often described in terms that began with “yeah, but”.
Damon Allen just played.
He went north and found a home.
At a comparatively slight 6 feet 1, 175 pounds, Damon stuck around a stunning 23 seasons in the Canadian Football League before retiring at age 44 in 2008.
Allen set a professional record with almost 14 miles of passing yards, actually 72,381. He attempted more than 9,000 passes, played in 370 games and threw for 394 touchdowns. He rushed for 11,920 yards, only 323 less than Marcus gained in his NFL career.
He quarterbacked his teams to 4 Grey Cup championships and twice was MVP of the Grey Cup game.
Of his time in Canada, Allen once said, “It may not be the NFL, but I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a kid. If you respect the game of football it doesn’t matter what league you play in.”
He was a kid when Damon joined the Valencia Park Pop Warner team near his home off Euclid Avenue in San Diego.
Graduating to the Junior Pee Wee League, Damon became a quarterback when he fielded an errant pass and threw what was described as a tight spiral back to the coach at the line of scrimmage.
When Allen repeated the throw his coach said, “You’re my quarterback” and Damon led the team to two undefeated seasons. Allen then created his own legacy at Lincoln but kept alive a tradition. He wore jersey number 9, Marcus’ number in high school.
Damon led the Hornets to a 12-0 record in 1979 and defended the AA title this year, reversing an earlier loss to La Jolla while completing 7 of 12 passes for 150 yards and 3 touchdowns in Lincoln’s 39-22, championship-clinching win over the Vikings.