Prior to this offseason, people around the NFL and even most Falcons fans did not know who Ricardo Allen was. Allen was a fifth-round selection in 2014 and failed to make the Falcons initial 53-man roster that season. Atlanta signed Allen back onto the practice squad, but he seemed to be just another failed late-round draft pick in the Dimitroff era. Allen never saw a down that season, but made his impression on new head coach Dan Quinn in the year’s training camp. So much so, that Quinn had Allen as the number one strong safety on the depth chart heading into the preseason. Allen impressed during the preseason and was named an opening day starter for Atlanta. His resilience has been showcased throughout his short career, but it was more than just football that molded Allen into the person he is today.
When Allen was just a young child, he had an accident that would change is life forever. He was a hungry kid harmlessly trying to make some food. The innocent act took a turn for the worse when Allen woke up to the kitchen on fire. His older brother, Adrian, was screaming and attempted to put out the grease fire with water. The fire exploded up and burnt Adrian’s whole arm.
At the time Adrian was a highly touted recruit in Florida. He was going to be the first person in the Allen family to not only play college football, but to attend college. Due to this accident, his dreams of playing football in college and possibly the NFL diminished. Ricardo, a middle school student at the time, carried the weight of the guilt for his brother’s injury, and decided to do something about it.
The next year, Ricardo Allen, started to play organized football. Allen continued to play and shine in high school, earning scholarships from all across the country. He landed on Purdue and became the first person in his family to play college football.
Allen played in 50 games in 4 years for the Boilermakers. He was one of the lone bright spots on an otherwise lowly team. Over his career, he had 10 interceptions and 6 touchdowns. The success warranted him an opportunity at the pros, but his size seemed to prevent him from becoming a serious NFL talent. But of course, that did not stop Allen.
Through hard work and perseverance Allen has become a starter in the NFL. While many Atlanta fans including myself had their doubts about Allen, he has shown that he is here to stay. His performance in Week 1 against Philly was spectacular. He was all over the field making plays, but it was the last one that all Falcons fans will remember. With under two minutes left in the game, Sam Bradford had one more chance to lead his Eagles to victory. Bradford threw a tipped pass, and Ricardo Allen came up with his first career interception to seal the week 1 victory.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Ricardo Allen if that childhood incident had never happened. Would he have even started playing football? Would he have even attended college?. Those questions can never be answered, but one thing is for sure: that interception was for Adrian.