DAVID TOMPKINS PHOTOGRAPH
For someone who just retired, former New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister is a busy man. While imminently accessible (I have his cell phone number; no, you can’t have it), it was ironically difficult trying to pin down a day and time to interview him. I figured it might be because I was so excited that I was jinxing it by talking about it too much – though I was always met with the universal “I love Deuce!” and “Did he get a Super Bowl ring?” (Yes, he did.) One friend asked if I could ask him if Garrett Hartley was single (I forgot. Garrett, I know a cute girl in her 20s who wants to meet you.) But with some help from one of his friends, McAllister and I connected. I have to say, I was nervous. I mean, it’s Deuce McAllister. But with McAllister, everything is intensely focused and chill all at the same time. He is a Saints fan favorite for a reason.
Drafted in 2001 by former New Orleans Saints Coach Jim Haslett, McAllister was soon breaking records and winning over even the most demanding Saints fan. He had been a running back since his high school and college years in Mississippi, where he broke college football records at Ole Miss. McAllister excelled on the professional football field as well. [He had four seasons (’03, ’04, ’05 and ’06) where he ran more than 1,000 yards.] Beset by a series of knee injuries and the problems related with them, McAllister was let go from the Saints in February ’09, only to be asked to return in January ’10, just before the divisional playoff game with the Arizona Cardinals. He was named the Saints’ honorary captain, and when McAllister led the team onto the field, Saints fans went wild – for the team and for McAllister. While he didn’t play, he was a source of inspiration to players and fans. Even though he’s no longer playing for the Saints, he will always remain a pivotal player in the minds of New Orleanians.
Anyone with me for retiring his number, 26, in his honor?
Age: 31 Born: Dulymus Jenod McAllister in Jackson, Miss.; raised in Ludlow, Miss. Education: High School: Morton High School; College: University of Mississippi, a degree in criminal justice, minored in English. Resides: Luling, La. Family: Married with a family. Deuce grew up the second of four children – he has an older brother and two younger sisters. Favorite book: Michael Jordan: A Biography by Bill Gutman and biographies on Bo Jackson.
He says, “I always wanted to be the next Bo Jackson.” Favorite movies: Titanic and Remember the Titans. Favorite TV show: “Law & Order: SVU.” Favorite restaurant: Drago’s Favorite dish: Spaghetti (with either plain red sauce or meat sauce. And if he makes it for you, be prepared for it to be spicy.) Favorite music: R&B Favorite musician: Yolanda Adams Hobby: “I like to fish, and to travel with friends and family.” Favorite vacation: Anywhere on a beach.
Who gave you the nickname Deuce? My high school coach, Terry Coggins.
You have been a running back throughout your career. Is there any other position that you would’ve liked to play?
I’ve played quarterback; but blocking, an offensive lineman. I have complete respect for them.
Who has been your toughest coach? My high school coach, William Brown.
Who were your mentors? I think the great running backs: Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk and Bo Jackson. And there are people in my daily life outside of football.
What was it like to be a part of the Super Bowl? I was truly blessed and happy that the Saints made me a part of it. It showed that all of the hard work had paid off. It was definitely an honor.
Do you think the Saints will make it to the Super Bowl again? Yes, I do. They have to take one game at a time and avoid major injuries.
Who do you think the Saints toughest opponent will be? Everyone – the world will be watching.
What was your greatest accomplishment as a Saint? There were a couple of games that stick in my head, but I think the first playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2006 at the Superdome was my best game. The best overall game was the first one after Hurricane Katrina, when the Saints played the Atlanta Falcons – it was to the team, the city and myself. It wasn’t my best game, but it was still very special.
Tell me about your Deuce McAllister Catch 22 Foundation. It was founded in 2002. I started it to give back to the community, to help inner-city youth. The foundation still does that, but since Hurricane Katrina we’ve expanded it because there were so many more people who needed to be helped. We do a number of activities, including “Deuce Days,” where we take children into a business, let’s say a pizza parlor, and show how it operates, from making the pizzas to running the register. We also have a Football Camp in Mississippi, and I hope to do one in the New Orleans area.
What is the Deuce up to now that you are retired from the Saints? I am looking into a variety of opportunities, including TV.
To learn more about the Deuce McAllister Catch 22 Foundation, visit www.catch22foundation.org.