Every member of the NFL has their own story to tell. Some uplifting, others heartbreaking, sometimes both. Ultimately, no two routes into the league are the same, and on occasion, we are lucky enough to learn a person’s extraordinary story.
The latest of which is Houston Texans wide receiver Floyd Allen.
He may not yet be a household name, but this Houston native and Nimitz High School graduate told reporters on Wednesday how he earned his spot on the 90-man roster the hard way.
After graduating high school, Allen said that he “started off at an NAIA school,” meaning one which specializes in schools with “small athletics programs.” However, Allen knew he was destined for bigger and better things, and opted to go to JuCo.
His first foray into the world of JuCo couldn’t have gone much worse, with him unable to play due to his credits not transferring. And while his second JuCo did allow him to play, however, it wasn’t going to plan.
During his time at his second JuCo, Allen was living out of the passenger seat in his 2003 Honda Accord.
Said Allen: “At the time, I didn’t have any money to put down for a down payment for an apartment. So, I was homeless for about a good two to three weeks.”
Not coming from money, Allen supported himself by working at his local McDonalds, taking orders for the drive-thru customers. Ever the optimist, he did not let this get him down and focused this positivity into his work, even during the tough shifts.
“It’s hot outside and everybody just wants to get their order, and I’m trying my best to make somebody laugh or trying to keep everybody calm so we can get the line moving,” admitted Allen.
The 5-10 receiver continued to work long hours, balancing work, practice, and school.
“For me, if I didn’t have class that day then I tried to work as early as possible until practice,” Allen said. “Even if I did have class that day, I’d try to work really early, then go to class, then go to practice. I was doing my best to try to maintain everything.”
Of course, there were moments when it all almost got too much. He openly admits that there were times when he genuinely considered walking away from the game he dreamed of playing.
“When I was homeless, there were moments where I was like ‘Is this really what you want to do?’ I always said that ‘If God wakes me up in the morning, that’s an opportunity to chase your dreams,’” said Allen. “To this day, I’m still alive. So, this is an opportunity to keep chasing it.”
And ultimately, who can really blame Allen? Countless others have tried and failed to get to the position he is in now, and there likely will have been those along the way who believed moving on to another goal would have been the better course of action.
However, Allen was determined to continue chasing the dream, despite everything against him.
“I was big on seeing the bigger picture,” said Allen. “Which is ‘know this.’ And every night, I used to just think about all of the times that — just thinking about making it to the next level, having an opportunity to take care of my family. It always kept me motivated. Kept me from, in a sense, going insane.”
And to aid these tough times, he leaned on his family and his faith to pull him through.
“I’m big on faith, so I always lean on my parents and God,” Allen said. “Again, it’s tough in those situations. Especially chasing the dream of being an NFL player. It’s tough, because sometimes you go through stuff where you think it might not happen for you. But again, my parents always told me to trust in God. God won’t take you anywhere that his grace won’t protect you.”
However, there were more hurdles to come.
“Second year, built up a little interest from colleges,” said Allen. “Ended up getting a stress fracture in my left ankle, first fall practice. End of that season.”
This still wasn’t enough to deter Allen from making the NFL, or at least doing all he could to try. And finally, luck was on his side.
He said that coach Jacob Peeler who had previously recruited him was hired by Ole Miss where he asked Allen to walk on if he was still looking for a team. Naturally, he took a leap of faith, and it paid off.
From there, his journey to the NFL really picked up its pace.
“Just working out with N.W.O, ‘Nasty Wide Outs’ — best receiving corps in the country,” Allen said.
The N.W.O. produced two second-round picks in the 2019 NFL draft in A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf.
“Then going from there, just worked hard and then got an opportunity at the Tropical Bowl,” Allen said. “Got a chance to show what I can do in front of NFL scouts. Then Pro Day, and then I ended up getting an invite to the local day, here for the Texans. Now, I’m here.”
Allen is convinced that both his work ethic and his attention to detail are what ultimately landed him his dream job.
“I think they’ve seen the fire in me that wants to prove that I belong and that I can be a great teammate and a great asset to the team,” said Allen. “I think that’s something that probably caught their eye.”
Now back where it all began, the reality of playing for the team he grew up watching is still settling in. But despite having made it and accomplished his goal, he continues to be humble and grateful.
“It’s a blessing,” said Allen. “Honestly, it would’ve been a blessing to be on any team. Just knowing that all I’ve been through to get here. To be in the home team is kind of like a dream come true. I always talked to my parents about ‘How crazy would it be if I ended up playing for the Texans.’ Lo and behold, I’m here. So, it’s pretty crazy.”
Moving forward, not only will he be working hard to make the final roster or practice squad and get his shot in the NFL, but he aims to use his platform to support others in situations much like that he found himself in just a few years ago.
“I also want to give back to the community,” said Allen. “Because again, they support us, so why not support them? I feel like, for me, I’ve been through a lot, so I know there’s people out there that’s going through the same thing. If I can help them in any type of way, then why not use my platform to do it?”
The travails that Allen has been through have taught him to be grateful, and now he hopes to use his platform to inspire even more people who are able to witness his quest to capture his dream.
Knowing that my story has reached a lot of people and they, in a sense, have been telling me that I’m inspiring to them. So, just knowing all I’ve been through to get here. I’ve always been grateful for everything. Whether it’s them giving me shirts and shorts. When I was in JuCo, we never got any of that. So, I’m just like ‘Oh my. ‘ I’m just happy to get that. So, all it did was teach me just to be grateful. You never know where like will take you. So, whether it’s up or down, just be grateful that you have an opportunity to see the day.
Allen has made it through to the end of mandatory minicamp as a member of the Texans’ 90-man roster. How could there not be a more compelling pet cat for Texans fans come training camp than Floyd Allen?