McAllister looking for a comeback

Published 12:15 am Sunday, May 17, 2009

Deuce McAllister is done trying to be a superstar, done trying to carry a team on his back as he did with the New Orleans Saints earlier this decade.

The 30-year-old power runner doesn’t want to be the embittered player living in denial about the effects of age and injuries on his game. He does, however, still want to win a Super Bowl — as a player.

“Keep living,” McAllister said. “Either injuries are going to take you out or age will catch you, and you have to kind of redefine your role if you want to continue to play.

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“I’m content,” McAllister added. “I’ve been the guy before, so I’m beyond that. The ultimate goal is to win a championship and to be able to help a team out.”

Drafted by the Saints out of Ole Miss in 2001, McAllister is the franchise’s career rushing leader with 6,096 yards. His 55 total touchdowns and 49 rushing TDs also are Saints records.

Released by New Orleans after last season, McAllister has spent part of the offseason visiting with doctors at Duke University and the rest in Gulf Breeze, Fla., working out about five hours a day at a sports medicine institute run by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

Just about every morning, he’s pulling sleds or doing other traditional resistance training. With a military base nearby, he sometimes works out alongside special forces soldiers, admiring their techniques and stamina.

“Those guys are pretty neat,” McAllister said, cracking a smile. “They can probably run 30 minutes at time, but their lateral movement is not the best.”

McAllister’s goal was to figure out why his knees have taken such a beating in recent seasons. He’s torn anterior cruciate ligaments in both legs, first his right one in 2005 and then the left in 2007. He’s needed minor cleanup operations since and played hurt throughout last season, having fluid drained from his left knee on a routine basis.

McAllister said doctors have advised him to work on strength and flexibility in his hips, ankles and core, something he didn’t focus on as much before. “It’s really just working on everything around the knee to take some of the pressure off of the knee,” McAllister said.

He hopes within a few weeks to be ready to start visiting teams interested in signing him. He also wouldn’t rule out returning to New Orleans, which he said would be “a dream come true. … But if it’s on a visiting team, then so be it. All that will play itself out.”

Certainly, McAllister remains popular with Saints fans.

On Friday, he traveled back to the New Orleans area to continue his long-standing charity work in the region. His Catch 22 Foundation joined with local company Allfax Specialties Inc., hosting a golf tournament to raise money for Children’s Hospital of New Orleans.

More than 200 golfers, including a number of current Saints players, participated in the event, which raised about $180,000.

“The fans appreciate what he’s brought to New Orleans,” Saints right tackle Jon Stinchcomb said. “They understand the business side to the NFL, but I think they have a genuine love for Deuce McAllister.”

If McAllister eventually signs with a team, the possibility of a four-game suspension could be hanging over him. He was among several players last year whose use of an over-the-counter dietary supplement yielded positive tests for the banned diuretic bumetanide. The players have appealed their suspensions and the case is pending in federal court.

McAllister said he remained confident in the players’ case.

“I feel very good about it,” he began. “There’s not a lot I can really say. I think all that will come out.”

McAllister also is in litigation to save his closed Nissan dealership in Jackson, Miss. He’s trying to pull it out of bankruptcy. His other dealership, which sells higher-end makes like Land Rover and Jaguar, remains open.

McAllister, who grew up in the Jackson area, said he is still working on the redevelopment of historic downtown buildings there. He said the recession has complicated the project, but that new tax credits have helped keep it viable.

Still, he said his primary focus is latching on with a team that would be willing to give him another chance — and at least 10-15 carries a game.

“I’m still going to play,” McAllister asserted. “I want to play a couple more years.”