Damon Allen - Quarterback - 1996-02 - Cal State Fullerton
Damon Allen spent the 1995 CFL season with the Memphis Mad Dogs. While it is widely believed he would receive the best compensation of his career for his year in the south, when the American based teams folded prior to the 1996 CFL season Allen was left without a team.
The British Columbia Lions began the 1996 season with a patchwork of owners that included former Montreal Alouettes owner Nelson Skalbania once Bill Comrie sold the team. As many suspected the owners stopped paying the bills and the team at that point led by quarterback Andre Ware faced serious questions whether they would continue through the season. Former Hamilton Tiger Cats owner David Braley stepped in and purchased the club midway through the season. Ware was shown the exit door and Damon Allen was summoned after spending the first months of the season without a team.
It would be a slow building for the Lions first under Adam Rita and then Greg Mohns the team improved and was competing with the Stampeders for tops in the division by the end of the 1990’s with Allen at the helm.
In 2000, Mohns was replaced at head coach by Steve Buratto and the Lions and Allen flourished. In 2000, Damon would enjoy his finest season on the West Coast with 4,840 yards passing for 24 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. Allen along with the combination of Sean Millington and Robert Drummond became the most versatile and dangerous backfield in the league. The ability to run or throw kept opposing defences guessing and advanced the Lions past Calgary and Edmonton all the way to the Grey
Cup and a match-up against the favoured Montreal Alouettes.
Allen would deliver (as he had previously for Edmonton in 1987 and 1993) in the big game and lead the Lions over the Alouettes 26-24.
The California native would enjoy 2 more productive seasons as he surpassed Ron Lancaster’s league record for career passing yards while with the Lions.
After the 2002 season, Wally Buono joined the Lions as head coach. With Buono’s former quarterback Dave Dickenson returning to the league from the NFL, the Lions went ahead and signed Dickenson while Allen was released.
Damon would go on to join the Toronto Argonauts in 2003 and enjoy more Grey Cup success with the Argonauts.