Damon Allen's CFL future remains unclear
Quarterback considers retirement as Argos management prepares to discuss his status
As the National Football League prepares to invade Toronto later this year, one of the city's more popular and successful Argonauts of all-time could be ready to call it a career.
Quarterback Damon Allen hasn't scrapped the idea of playing a 24th season in the Canadian Football League, but he is keeping his options open beyond football.
"I've been looking at a lot of other opportunities — whether it's television or other things — if I decide not to play," Allen, 44, told the Toronto Star on Thursday. "But playing the game is still in me."
While Argos management picked up the option year in Allen's contract for 2008, it doesn't guarantee the California native will arrive at training camp this summer.
It simply means Allen won't be available to the highest bidder when the CFL free-agent season begins Feb. 16.
Rich Stubler, who is entering his first season as Argos head coach, plans to meet next week with offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto, general manager Adam Rita and personnel director Greg Mohns to discuss if Allen fits into the team's plans.
"They can say, 'We've decided to go another way'," Allen said. "If that's the case, then let me out of my contract and I can deal with any other team that might show interest in me."
Chances are Allen would be returning in a backup role.
"If we feel he's not going to be the starter then he'd really come in to school one of our quarterbacks," said Stubler, Toronto's defensive co-ordinator the previous five seasons. "Right now, that would be Damon's role.
"I'm not making any bones about the fact that Michael [Bishop] is our starter."
Down the road, Cody Pickett or Reggie McNeal could grab the No. 1 job. The Argos also have veteran CFL quarterback Rocky Butler on the roster.
Allen, who completed 45 of 67 passes for 492 yards in limited time last season, has been training over the winter as though he'll be playing.
He told the Star he learned a lot in the 2007 campaign after losing the starting job to Bishop, who finished sixth in CFL passing with 2,920 yards.
"Do I want to be in the same situation [this year]?" said Allen, who missed nine games last season with a badly injured toe. "If I can come to the conclusion that I can, then you might see me in training camp."