We talk all the time about players being successful on the football field, but we know that there's so much more to being successful in life than just being good at a sport. Colts tight end Dwayne Allen set out to show his 15 nieces and nephews just that, and he did so admirably.
He went back and finished his college degree.
"Now that I have time to over think the clichés that usually come out, did it for my mom, had to do it, what not. I really did it for my nieces and nephews," Allen said Saturday. "I have 15, 16 nieces and nephews who don't know of anyone in their family that has gone to college and anyone who graduated. For me to be the first out of seven children to do that was huge importance to me."
"I was bestowed a heavy burden and thanks to the grace of God I was able to fulfill it and go to college and graduate," Allen continued. "It doesn't stop there, that is what I wanted them to realize. That is why I paid for my entire family to come down there. I had 30 some odd people down there at graduation. I wanted them to see what real success is. It's not just me being able to play in the National Football League and being a professional athlete because the odds are against most people in doing that but if you apply effort in your education, then anyone can be successful."
When Allen left college to go to the NFL, he still had thirteen hours (four courses) left to complete. He took three of them after his rookie season, but the last one needed wasn't offered in the spring. So he was kind of stuck there until one of his teachers noticed his dedication and his dilemma and allowed Allen to complete an independent study during the summer to finish his degree, which is in health science.
Of course, attending graduation in and of itself proved to be eventful for Allen, considering his team played a game the night before. Allen played one series in that game ("I only had one series, which I stunk it up, so I was upset about that," Allen said), and then while the team flew back to Indianapolis, Allen stayed in Newark and caught a flight at 5 a.m. Friday morning. He then drove about 40 minutes to Clemson, and there he went through the commencement ceremony and interacted with his family, talking with them and taking pictures. He needed to get back for practice Saturday and had a flight out of Atlanta at 5:25, but due to thunderstorms he was delayed. He said the team could have fined him up to $30,000 for missing curfew and a day, but he got it worked out with his coaches and ended up flying out of Atlanta at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, getting into Indianapolis around 12, then "hightailed it up here," according to Allen. He wasn't out there for the warmups, but he made it to practice.
Allen said that the Colts paid for his transportation and stuff like that, and Chuck Pagano said on Saturday how easy it was to allow Allen to attend his graduation:
"Yeah, no brainer. No brainer when it came to that. Talking to Dwayne, he's the first one in his family to graduate and get a college degree so to be able to, on an off day after the game, send him home and have the opportunity to walk with your classmates and do that in front of your family is obviously, we're very, very proud of him for what he's done in a short period of time. We're proud of him for going back and getting that degree and I think everybody should have the opportunity to do that. It worked out with our schedule and it was fine."
It's awesome to see guys like Allen setting such a great example for younger people, in Allen's case his family, and that's what it's really about. It's one thing to be successful on the football field, but it's another thing to be successful in life. Dwayne Allen is both. Huge congrats to him on finishing his degree.