May 24, 2007

Sax gets the better of Ian Allen

Trades in pigskin for musical career

By Herb Zurkowsky,
Montreal Gazette

The music was all bad last September, when guard Ian Allen made his Alouettes debut during a humbling defeat at British Columbia. But in retirement, Allen hopes to play a different tune.

Two weeks before the start of this season’s training camp, Allen has revealed his decision to retire to The Gazette.

Although he’s only 28, Allen has decided to pursue his fledgling music career, while continuing to reside in Montreal.

“I have no regrets. I’m an entrepreneur,” he said. “For me, life is not about working for people. I want to enjoy life on my own schedule.”

The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder spent portions of six seasons in the NFL, toiling for teams like Atlanta, the New York Giants, Philadelphia, Arizona and Kansas City, when he signed with the Als as a free agent last July. He dressed for a game against Toronto in early August, and then started at right-tackle against the Lions, Sept. 16, replacing Luke Fritz, who supposedly was sidelined with a groin injury.

The Alouettes were in the midst of a six-game losing streak, and former head coach Don Matthews decided to shake things up on the offensive-line that night. Tango McCauley, another newcomer, started at left guard for a benched Paul Lambert against the Lions.

The Als lost the game 36-20, surrendering 12 quarterback sacks – the most in franchise history and one off the Canadian Football League record – in the process. Allen remained with the team, starting four more games. McCauley, too, was on the roster for four more games, including one as a starter.

“I have no qualms about my play,” Allen said. “In B.C., we all made a lot of mental mistakes. I’m pretty sure I still figured into the Als’ plans.”

Several weeks ago, however, Allen’s name disappeared from the team’s website roster. The organization never made an announcement. Allen said he told management of his retirement, claiming it was his decision. He denied being released or that he was a victim of the salary cap.

“I chose to retire. I have a lot of outside interests,” he said. “I think this decision is carved in stone.”

When he played for the Cardinals in 2005, Allen missed significant time because of a bulging disc in his back. He also wants to pursue his music interests. Allen, who plays tenor sax and keyboards, is a producer and composer. His company, Nova 53 Records, released a CD, Nova’s Lounge, last November.

Allen becomes the fourth member of last year’s team, following Ed Philion, Eric Lapointe and Sylvain Girard, to retire. The Als, according to their website roster, plan on bringing 10 offensive linemen to camp.

Note – The Als, according to a radio report, are offering a comeback attempt to receiver Jerome Pathon. Pathon spent eight seasons in the NFL with Indianapolis, New Orleans and Atlanta, and made 260 receptions, but he hasn’t played since 2005. Pathon was Montreal’s second choice (11th overall) in the 1997 Canadian college draft.