Allen's leadership is hard to match


As if on cue, Dri Archer and B.W. Webb flew in behind Will Allen, jumped in the shot and messed with his hair, just as he was about to answer a question about the youth on the Steelers 2015 team.

An unfazed Allen just shook his head and laughed.

"You have young guys like that messing with an old guy like me," said Allen, as the two jumped out of the shot just as fast as they entered it.

It was the prime example of what Monday was all about for the Steelers. It was a day at Dave & Buster's at the Waterfront set aside for team building. No football. No practice. No sweat. Just fun and being around teammates in a relaxed setting.

And Allen, well he is the prime example of understanding what the day was all about and making sure the young guys did as well.

"Coach (Mike) Tomlin is affording us the opportunity to grow closer," said Allen. "Different groups of guys get together here. Maybe the defensive backs will hang out with the offensive line, however the combination will be. He is allowing everyone to mingle and get to know each other a little bit and let some competitive juices come.

"You get to know people in a more in depth way. You have pockets of guys who hang out together, now everybody hangs out together."

Allen might not be a captain for the Steelers, but there is no doubt the 12-year veteran is a leader through and through. He brings so much to the table young players can learn from.

He is unselfish on the field with the ability to go from starter to backup and back to starter without a blink of an eye. He is a leader in the community, with the Will Allen Foundation a shining example of how players should give back. And his business savvy for knowing how to handle his finances, how to be prepared for life after football, is unparalleled.

He credits all of that to those he played with, from Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks when he was with Tampa Bay, to teammates like James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton with the Steelers.

"It's teaching guys what I have learned over the years and what great players have taught and showed me," said Allen. "Those guys showed me a lot about how to be a professional, not only on the field, but off the field and how to take care of my body.

"I learned a lot from those guys. As a young player you have to watch a veteran and see how he behaves on and off the field. As an older player it's your responsibility to pay it forward, what you learned from other veteran players. That is a part of the NFL. That is part of being able to lead."

Allen said the best advice he can give younger players is to take care of themselves, and be wise financially, because careers don't last forever.

"Take care of your body and it will take care of you, take care of your money and it will take care of you," said Allen. "Those are the most important assets we have as players, our bodies and finances. If you can find a way to manage that well, you can play for a long time, and you can save a lot of money and be set when you are done playing." 

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