Will Allen Talks To JoeJune 3rd, 2010
After six seasons wearing pewter and red, the Bucs parted ways with safety and special teams ace Will Allen during the offseason. Not only did the Bucs lose a productive player, the Tampa Bay area lost a committed community servant who worked with kids weekly during the school year. Allen’s charitable foundation will live on locally, and he’s hosting an exciting party and golf event on June 12 & June 13 in Tampa. More than 20 NFL players, including many Buccaneers, will participate.
Joe talked to the always well-spoken Allen last night about football and his foundation, and here’s what Joe can share from their conversation.
Joe: Tell me about your foundation. What about it is most enjoyable for you?
Will Allen: My favorite part about my foundation is working with the kids and helping them prepare for life after high shool and prepare for life period. … Meeting the families and the kids. I love positively affecting lives around me. …We work in the high schools hands on with the kids to get business professionals in front of them, everything from Bank of America, to Kaplan to financial aid directors and health professionals. So many kids don’t have the guidance about everything in life from SATs to paying for college and all kinds of basic life skills. …You can go to your guidance counselor, but you have someone in your face from the real world and it becomes more intimate and effective. We work with the kids on resume writing, managing credit, so many things. It’s been very enjoyable. We rotate working with kids every other week year-round at King High School and Brooks-Debartolo [Collegiate High School] in Tampa.
Joe: Did you get Raheem Morris in front of the kids? I know he was doing a lot in the schools last year.
Allen: No, but Raheem will be out. Personal success stories like Raheem’s get the kids attention. And as a young guy, he’ll really make an impact.
Allen: What I’ll say is that it will be authentic. This isn’t the typical golf tournament with a bunch of players where you just play golf, have a meal, take some pictures and go home. There will be special events at tourmanent, and some great surprises at the parings party the night before. I don’t want to tell all the secrets. But it will be different and memorable for everyone.
Joe: Did the Bucs make an offer to keep you in Tampa Bay? How did that transpire?
Allen: We talked over what would be the best situation and best opportunity. They obviously respect my professionalism and I do theirs. It just didn’t work out. It’s not that we partned ways negatively. It was just the business side of the numbers and the playing opportunity on the field. It just wasn’t a fit. … I’ll always have great love for the Buccaneers. I met a lot of great people and worked with a lot of great people. A bittersweet moment. I loved being here. But I’m looking forward to my new opportunity in Pittsburgh.
Joe: You were a special teams captain and a Pro Bowl alternate special teamer. You played on a top-flight special teams unit in Tampa Bay, captaining one in 2008. What really makes the Bucs special teams so good? And how do you think they’ll fare without you and a guy like Brian Clark who also left this offseason?
Allen: The special teams play so well, first from the leadership from Rich Bisaccia. what he was coaching saying and doing, everybody believed in him and everybody wanted to fight for him and each other. Once we established that, everybody followed suit. … So much of it comes back to the coach. It’s almost hard to put into words. Playing for Rich Bisaccia, it was awesome. I think it will be hard to replace losing Brian Clark, Torrie Cox, Josh Bidwell and myself. That’s four core guys on special teams, but there’s lot of guys still there who know what’s expected and who know what’s coming up. They’ll be alright.
Joe: What was the mindset of the defense after Raheem took over last year and got rid of Jim Bates’ system? And how would you compare what was going on when the Bucs were struggling and then when Raheem became defensive coordinator?
Allen: When Raheem stepped in I just think [the defense] had a more competitive nature. They were more angry with Raheem taking over. What I mean is they could play angry and they could play faster. [Raheem’s system] was what they wanted to play. And when you know what you are doing on the football field, you play harder and better. Guys were very frustrated with what we were doing under Jim Bates, and then you add all the losing to that. You were always tyring to figure out your new way versus just having the knowledge of what to do. There was a lot of confusion. Raheem turned it around, and it was a good time. It was good.
Joe: You were a starter in 2006 at free safety when Raheem left the team to coach at Kansas State. Raheem comes back the next season to coach the defensive backs and you moved into a reserve role behind then-rookie Tanard Jackson? How hard was that? And did you feel like Raheem wasn’t a fan of yours?
Allen: I’m not quite sure why that decision was made, Tanard’s a great player. Situations are frustrating when you don’t know why, when you don’t get that communication. They wanted to move forward with Tanard Jackson, and I think I dealt with it professionally and filled my role very well.
Joe: In addition to the Bucs cutting Derrick Brooks and many veterans, across the NFL there seems to be less value placed on experience. Teams don’t seem to value what a veteran player offers. What do you think about all that?
Allen: If a team doesn’t place the value on experienced veterans, then they’re missing the big picture. You can’t send an intern to do a 10-year guys’ job. You’re just not going to get the results. But if the 10-year guy isn’t doing the job, then you have to train somebody else. There’s still a value to the vet teaching that new guy and showing him how to become the guy he was. …The NFL is a great resource to learn professionalism, but it recycles itself. The older guys have to be there to teach the younger guys. It’s been that way for many years. …There definitely is a need and a value for veteran guys, as a mentor or role model, to be a coach on and off the field. It’s suprising that trend is happening.
Joe: Going back to your college days at Ohio State and your memorable hit on Willis McGahee that nearly cost him his career, have you talked to him at all? Are there any bad feelings there?
Allen: After that game, I talked to him a couple of days after to see how he was doing. I wanted to talk to him and encourage him. Just being in the NFL world, we’ve seen each other. There’s not bad feelings or anything like that.
Joe: The Steelers are in quite a different situation than the Bucs. Recently Mike Tomlin called it a “circus atmosphere” at practice because of the media harping on the Ben Roethlisberger scandal. How is that affecting the team? Are guys divided on how they feel about Roethlisberger?
Allen: I really think that it’s going to be old news. Everybody knows the repercussions of how Mr. Goodell will come down on people who break that policy. It’s really old news, man. Old news on the team. Everybody knows Ben’s going to be out for the six games and the season will go on. In the NFL, things happen and a team has to move on quickly.