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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017 7 months ago

Xtra Point — Giving back: The Atlanta Falcons safety and Mainland alum holds a free camp less than a week after the Super Bowl

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I have to tip my cap to Ricardo Allen for this gesture.
by: Jeff Dawsey Sports Editor

At this point in my life, I have no favorite NFL teams or players. But, when I hear or see some of them make a difference in people’s lives, I tend to want those players to succeed.

This past weekend, I couldn’t help being impressed with Atlanta Falcons safety Ricardo Allen. Less than a week after losing the Super Bowl in that way, Allen still chose to host his free football camp for hundreds of students on Saturday, Feb. 11, at Mainland High School.

I’ve heard many stories about athletes going into seclusion for weeks after losing their big games. Some take vacations to islands where they don’t have to talk about the game.

But Allen knew what awaited him at Mainland. He knew everyone would ask how the Falcons blew such a large lead. He also knew some Patriots fans would attend. Nevertheless, he showed up. And, after talking about him with Mainland coach Scott Wilson’s wife, Brooke, I’m not surprised.

She called him the “hardest working athlete I’ve ever seen.” One day, her family took him to Taco Bell, and, before and after he ate, she said he went out into the parking lot to jump rope.

“He was constantly looking to get better,” she said. “He was never complacent.”

Allen said he inherited that work ethic from his mother, who had four children and still to this day wakes up at 5 a.m. to go work in a factory.

“How can I complain about working for a multimillion dollar contract every day, when she wakes up singing every morning?” he asked.

Allen has had to work to become the player he is today. Even he admitted that he wasn’t on the elite high school players’ levels in the beginning. But he got there.

Early in his pro career, Allen was reserved to a practice player. But, in his last two playoff games, he intercepted Super Bowl quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers to help the Falcons reach the big game.

Allen said he wanted the student-athletes at him camp to grasp this message: “Don’t try to be the cool guy now. Work for something that’s bigger than you. You could change your family and your generation.”

How can I not be a fan of this guy?

To see camp photos, click here: http://www.ormondbeachobserver.com/photo-gallery/photo-gallery-ricardo-allen-hosts-free-football-camp?time=1487079480

Jeff Dawsey began his professional journalism career and his Observer employment in August of 2014. He is currently the Palm Coast and Ormond Beach Sports Editor, and he also writes business for just Palm Coast. In 2014, he graduated from Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville...

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