“I was in high school walking to gym class, and I was a write-up away from being kicked out of high school,'' the Colts tight end said recently. “I'd already been in alternative school throughout middle school.
“I was walking, and the football head coach saw me and asked if I played football. At that time, I was a big basketball player, but I wasn't playing football. He told me, with my size and athletic ability, I could someday plan on Saturdays and if I really wanted to and was willing to work for it, I could play on Sundays.
“So he proceeded to go back to his office and come back with a $10 bill. He said, `Now, Dwayne, you can take this 10 dollars and go buy a bag of dope, or you can use this money to take a physical and show up to practice Monday'.''
Allen, who grew up in the Fayetteville, N.C., in rough socioeconomic circumstances, made the right choice, even if he spent a lot of his childhood making the wrong choices.
It's at this point that we write “…and the rest was history,'' but that's only part of his story.
While that was a seminal moment in Allen's personal evolution, so was this: Last year, while sitting out nearly the entire season while recovering from a hip injury he suffered in the season's first game, Allen underwent a religious conversion. Now, like so many teammates and athletes throughout sports, he proudly proclaims himself to be a Christian.
In January, he was enjoying a quiet moment in his room at home when he opened a book that he received from a friend. It was “How Good Is Good Enough?'' by Andy Stanley. The book spoke to him in a deep and almost unfathomable way.
“The book really opened my eyes to some of the things I was doing that weren't right,'' Allen said. “I read it and I just dropped to my knees and started praying. That was January 8 of this past year. Then March 6, I was baptized. I did it without hesitation. I knew it was the right decision.''
This was quite a transformation for a young man who was, by his own admission, a bit of a hellion when he was growing up.
“Growing up in a single-parent home in the projects isn't the easiest way to grow up,'' Allen said. “I'm so thankful my head coach in high school came along and offered me an opportunity of a lifetime to play. And he continued to mold me as a man. He enriched me with character and values that, where I grew up, weren't respected and weren't taught.''
Allen grew up in a nominally Christian household, but didn't ascribe to the faith in any tangible way. If anything, he held to the same general notion espoused by Karl Marx, who talked about religion as the “opiate of the masses.''
“There was a time in my life when I believed whoever created religion was a genius who helped get people to believe in some external thing to help them hold onto their sanity,'' the thoughtful Allen said. “I was an atheist. I didn't believe in a higher power at all. I think people grow up thinking they have all the answers, or at least I did, and they can handle everything in life on their own.
“Slowly but surely, though, He started to show me how things happen for a reason, and from that, I adopted that philosophy and gained peace and contentment.''
He continued, “I was at a point where I really needed peace in my life. Whenever you're so busy with your life, or a girlfriend, or whatever, it's hiding the fact that you need peace. Then when that distraction is gone, you begin to go down that spiral. For me, football was that distraction. A lot of fans probably think otherwise, but honestly, I'm so thankful for being able to sit out last year. I just needed something. I was searching. And until this year, I just didn't know where to find that peace.''
By any measure, Allen had a marvelous rookie year two years ago, catching 45 passes for 521 yards while establishing himself as a mauling blocker. Last year, though, he was injured in the season opener, never to return. Now he's back, which means offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton can once again utilize his entire playbook, which is heavy with uses of dual tight ends.
Missing an entire season? For most, it's a lonely, challenging time. And Allen had his tough moments while living in the training room. But the time off gave him time to think, to come to terms with some of the issues in his life. And it gave him a chance to more fully immerse himself in the Indianapolis community. Mostly, though, he found out how much he missed football.
“I was able to sit back and really grow an appreciation for the game itself,'' Allen said. “I was good and I was good early, and I knew I was good. Not in a cocky way, but I started to plan things out, thinking I had everything in the bag. I really wasn't working as hard at my craft. I remember last year, my second training camp, I hated it. But I had a blast this year at camp. I really enjoyed the teaching aspect of the game and getting back to basics. And that's what I needed. I missed football.''
Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is one of the religious leaders of the team, and has noticed changes in Allen.
“He's really grown since he came back,'' Hasselbeck said. “And he's become one of the young leaders of this team, kind of filled that role that opened up when Antoine Bethea left.''
When it comes to athletes, we can easily quantify their evolution statistically. With Allen, though, there's been a continued personal evolution. He says he has peace now, and that's most of the battle.
This post was written by Bob Kravitz of WTHR sports. For the original post go to: http://www.wthr.com/story/26451049/2014/09/04/kravitz-from-hell-raiser-to-devout-christian-colts-allen-evolves-on-the-field-and-off