Hellish week behind him, Allen focuses on football

Hellish week behind him, Allen focuses on football
December 6, 2012, 10:45 pm
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Dennis Allen's father fell victim to a heart attack, but he left his family to coach the Raiders Thursday night. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- His eyes reddened and became moist.

His voice nearly cracked and, really, you could not have blamed him if it did.

Dennis Allen, the Raiders' rookie head coach, had just endured his sixth straight defeat on the football field. But it paled in comparison to what he lost on Monday night. Yeah, it's been a tough week for the 40-year-old, first-time coach.

"You know," Allen said, firmly, "I went home on Sunday and took my father off life support and that's not easy to do. So was it hard? Yeah, it was hard. But I know my father would want me to be here with this football team.

"And I wanted to be here with this football team. I'm sure you guys can imagine that it wasn't an easy situation."

Easy? Not even close. More like hard to fathom.

Yes, we know that the bottom line in the NFL is about wins and losses, and Allen would be the first to tell you that. Especially after Thursday night's maddening 26-13 loss to Denver. Thing is, Allen would be the last person to play the woe-is-me card.

Not even with the week he's just endured.

His father Grady, who played linebacker in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons from 1968 through 1972, was just 66 years of age and the seeming picture of health back home in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. But last Wednesday, he was felled by a heart attack and fell into a coma.

The younger Allen knew of his father's ailment and plowed forward at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway, enduring the Rolando McClain situation and ensuing suspension before the Raiders' lackluster 20-17 loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

It was after that game that a Raiders official announced that Allen would be leaving the team to be by his father's side and return in time to coach the team Thursday night.

Then came the ridiculous and irresponsible rumors that somehow turned into full-fledged stories about Jon Gruden coming back to the Raiders.

Allen returned to practice Wednesday morning.

"You can't even imagine what he's going through," Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said of Allen. "And then he's got to go back, after that game? Your heart just goes out to him. You never expect anything like that.

"I can't imagine how helpless it feels, being on the other end of the country when that's happening over there. I can't imagine what he's going through."

It has been a surreal season for the Raiders off the field. Defensive line coach Terrell Williams and his wife Tifini lost their four-year-old son Tyson to a sudden illness two days before the Baltimore game.

Allen will return to Texas Friday night and return to the Raiders in time to Wednesday's practice to prepare for the home finale against Kansas City on Dec. 16. I asked Allen about the support shown him this week.

"A ton," he said. "A ton. I received a lot of support from a lot of different people. This organization has been outstanding to me as far as that's concerned. The players, the coaches, as well as countless friends, family, even people around the league, have been very supportive in this situation."

And with that, Allen's eyes dried. After all, there was football to talk about and plans to be made. He’s a football man, like his father before him.