Allen family survives Katrina scare

Kenderick Allen was scared – really scared. Close to a week after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast area, Allen still had not gotten through to his mother to check on her whereabouts. It wasn't until the Giants were headed to New England to wrap up their preseason schedule on Sept. 1 that Allen got word that his mother was all right.

"It's still something I'm dealing with," Allen said. "To not talk to your family for six straight days is scary. It was six days before I heard from anyone in my family."

Once Allen finally got word, he was relieved but still wasn't totally happy until he got to personally talk to his mother, Maudie Curney.

Allen, an unheralded defensive lineman for Big Blue, grew up in Bogulusa, which is about 70 miles from New Orleans. He left Bogulusa High School as one of the nation's most highly-rated recruits before enrolling at Louisiana State. He was thrilled to report that all of his family, including his son, had survived Katrina.

"It's not normal for everyone yet, but it's better than it could have been," he said. "Nobody was injured so that was a blessing. Power, water out, trees down."

On Sept. 14, Allen turned 27 years old. It took his mother going all the way to Baton Rogue before she could call her son to wish him a happy birthday.

"She had to drive an hour and a half just to get a signal to call me," Allen explained.

While watching all the wreckage on television, it was difficult for Allen to be basically stranded in New Jersey.

"I didn't have a good week that week, but I couldn't go home," he said. "The airports in New Orleans and Baton Rogue were shut down. You'd have to fly into Houston and that's a 12-hour drive. It would have been a waste of time.

"My whole family is from there. I wanted nothing more than to go home."

During the whole frustrating, scary ordeal, Allen was able to lean on a somewhat surprising source for support – coach Tom Coughlin.

"Coach was very compassionate, understood what I was going through," the 6-6, 315-pounder said. "He was real good in trying to help me get in contact with my family and see how I was doing mentally. He was a great help through the whole ordeal."

While all the media coverage focused on Eli Manning and his parents' house in New Orleans, Allen just suffered in silence.

"I don't like the limelight anyway," he smiled. "I'm a blue-collar guy."

A former Saint, Allen was especially looking forward to last Monday's game, knowing his folks back home would be able to watch him play. A third-year player, it was a bit surprising to some that Allen even made the final roster. However, he said he wasn't worried in the least.

"You kinda know if you have a job or not, you know where you stand," he said, after surviving final cuts. "From the outside, it might have looked that way, but I wasn't worried about my job. I'm a third-year player, and I've played pretty decently. I never was worried about a roster spot."

So Allen also wasn't surprised when he received a uniform for the home opener, and Coughlin decided to put fellow reserve DT Damane Duckett on the inactive list.

While he didn't make any tackles on opening day, Allen, whom the Giants were awarded off waivers on Sept. 6, 2004, still created havoc in the middle and successfully spelled the starting tandem of William Joseph and Kendrick Clancy.

As last year's disappointing season wore on, Allen continued to get better, posting 13 combined tackles in consecutive December games against Baltimore and Pittsburgh. He injured his hamstring in the Pittsburgh game, after dropping Jerome Bettis for a one-yard loss and missed the season's final two contests.

All told, he played in five games, starting two, and compiled 20 tackles and a sack. Allen recorded his first NFL sack against no less an escape artist than Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb on Nov. 18.

There's no question that Allen is very much in the DT mix, especially with two new starters at DT. Needless to say, after what he just went through, a little on-field adversity won't slow him down.

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