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Former Badger Beau Allen returns home for Super Bowl LII

The fourth-year Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle reflects on the biggest opportunity of his career.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It will be quite the homecoming for former Wisconsin Badgers defensive tackle Beau Allen this week as he heads back to Minneapolis in preparation for the Super Bowl LII.

Allen, a native of Minnetonka, Minn., said he is still working through the details of who from his family will make it out for the game, though he knows he will have a lot of people in town for the week’s festivities.

That includes a family member with some Wisconsin ties: his uncle, John “Stoney” Westphal, a former Wisconsin defensive back and past president of the W Club.

“He was at the NFC Championship Game last week and he bought, I think, 10 tickets or something during the game,” Allen said by phone on Thursday. “That’s my mom’s brother. He’ll be there with my mom’s side of the family, and they all hail from Janesville, Wis., so I know they’ll be there. I’m still kind of working out the details of the rest of the crew.”

Of course, Allen is “super stoked” for what lies ahead this week. His Philadelphia Eagles face the New England Patriots in an attempt to claim the organization’s first Super Bowl championship. Contributing to one of the NFL’s best defenses during the 2017 season, Allen now is 60 game minutes away from earning the title of world champion.

Minnetonka, where he grew up and became a four-sport athlete in high school, is about 20 minutes away from where Allen will suit up for the biggest game of his career inside U.S. Bank Stadium. Obviously, it is a good feeling to be on this stage after a rough spring for the fourth-year NFL defensive tackle.

“It’s been a crazy finale for this season,” Allen said. “It was kind of a tough off-season for me personally because I tore my pec last April and had surgery in May, and basically kind of rushed back to make sure I was ready for Week 1, so to go through that in the off-season and to be where I am at now, kind of looking back on the season, it’s a good feeling. It’s a rewarding feeling.”

Despite the spring injury, he worked his way back to play in the Eagles’ 2017 season opener against Washington. He saw time in 15 regular-season games with three starts, recording 20 tackles and a sack.

Overall, this Eagles squad overcame a rash of major injuries this season to make it to the Super Bowl. Former Wisconsin Badgers walk-on and team captain Chris Maragos—who became a team captain in Philadelphia and was a key member of its special teams unit—was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 19 due to a PCL injury. The Eagles lost linebacker Jordan Hicks to a ruptured achilles and left tackle Jason Peters to an ACL/MCL tear back in late October. MVP candidate, quarterback Carson Wentz suffered an ACL and LCL injury back in December. Add to that running back Darren Sproles and kicker Caleb Sturgis being placed on injured reserve as well, among others.

While other teams could fold in the wake of what devastating news, Allen noted his Eagles are “resilient.”

“When you have guys that are kind of some of your best players get hurt, it‘s wild,” Allen said. “We’ve had some different guys step in and do everything they can to fill in those shoes and it’s just crazy how it’s been in the NFL with injuries this year but absolutely we’ve had guys step in and not really even blink. Kind of seems like they honestly rallied around certain players like that and used them. Those guys are still such leaders and a presence in our locker room that it hasn’t really affected us as much as the outside world thought, I guess.”

Despite the personnel losses, Philadelphia is one win away from a Super Bowl title. Its defense under coordinator Jim Schwartz is one of the main reasons why. The longtime assistant and one-time Detroit Lions head coach came to Philadelphia two seasons ago and switched the scheme from a 3–4 to what Allen referred to as a 4–3, attacking front.

During the 2017 regular season, the Eagles ranked first against the run, fourth in total defense, and tied for fourth in interceptions.

“Beau, he’s the greatest guy you’ll ever meet,” Maragos said by phone on Friday, “and the thing about him too is he plays such an integral role on our defensive line and really on our team. The guy is a tremendous run stopper. He’s always in the right place. He’s accountable. He plays at a high level with a high motor. The guy’s physically tough. He’s extremely, extremely gutty and a really gritty-type player.”

The defensive line for Philadelphia boasts the likes of Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Vinny Curry, and Tim Jernigan, but Allen has also seen his role develop.

“It’s been good, man. I think I’ve played well. I think I’ve had a good year,” Allen said.

“Technically, I’m a back-up defensive lineman, but I’ve played in over 40 percent of the snaps this year, and I think I’ve done a good job in my role and I think I’ve played well.

“We have a really good d-line. We have a lot of guys that rotate in, a lot of guys that played really well, a lot of guys that played really hard, a lot of really good defensive linemen. I’d like to think that I’ve found a big role in the defense.”

Maragos’s description of Allen—the two missed each other by a year at Wisconsin—resoundingly depicts a stereotypical Badger lineman.

“You know, he’s just one of those blue-collar, bring-your-lunch pail-type guys and he really fills in a lot of the cracks that we have on our team,” Maragos said, “especially on our defense because the guy’s just so consistent and so accountable and just plays so well that he can be relied on.”

After the win last Sunday, Allen wore what has become a symbol of Philadelphia’s resilience and answering those who wrote them off due to injuries: a white poodle mask.

It makes sense, honestly, as the poodle mask has long, white hair. Allen has been known for his long, flowing locks.

NFL: NFC Championship-Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Allen credits likes of Lane Johnson and Chris Long for starting the trend, as the two wore dog masks resembling German Shephards after the NFC Divisional playoff win over the Atlanta Falcons two weeks ago. While the craze has reportedly sold out masks on Amazon, shirt sales have generated significant funds for Philadelphia schools (both on Johnson’s generated T-shirt and the one sold on NFL.com).

The former Badger has had some fun with the masks, though one picture of him in one during last week’s post-game celebration took him back a bit.

“So after the NFC Championship Game, I managed to get my folks and my brother and sister on the field,” Allen recalled. “I had the mask on, and he took a portrait photo on the iPhone. It’s kind of a high def, texturized photo, and it just looks really creepy, man.

“It’s all in good fun. I think it’s cool, too. Just a ton of fans had them on at the Linc during the NFC Championship Game, so that was really cool to see, too. The crowd was really hyped for the game. It was amazing. It was a great atmosphere.”

Allen has two former Badgers he calls NFL teammates in Maragos and undrafted free agent-turned-significant contributor, running back Corey Clement.

Both Clement and Allen played on Wisconsin’s 2013 team that featured running back James White, who they will see opposite them in Minneapolis next Sunday.

White and Allen also were part of a group of Badgers selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, along with safety Dezmen Southward, linebacker Chris Borland, and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis.

“I’ve texted with [White] a little bit,” Allen said. “No super deep in-depth conversations before the big game. We texted a bit talking about how we’ll see each other in the Super Bowl and how it was cool. Whenever you play college football with guys, you kind of have a special bond. That really doesn’t go away.”

Allen said he has also had other Wisconsin figures reach out. That includes a text from current UW head coach Paul Chryst.

Allen played in 54 games at Wisconsin and was a two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention selection his final two years. Now one game away from achieving the ultimate goal in professional football, the defensive tackle appreciates how he played against some great, familiar offensive lineman in what he described as a pro-style scheme in Madison.

“I think my sophomore year, I went against guys like Travis Frederick, Ryan Groy, Ricky Wagner, Kevin Zeitler,” Allen said. “Those guys are all still playing in the NFL. I’m playing them all on Sundays, so I appreciate the fact that we had that really talented o-line group, and I think that really prepared me for the kind of players that I would see in the NFL. Also just their kind of running schemes that I faced everyday at Wisconsin, too, has definitely translated over.”