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June 3, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; June 5, 2009 - A pair of former Penn State football standouts were honored Friday with the University's prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award.
The Penn State Board of Trustees announced earlier this year that former Nittany Lion quarterback Todd Blackledge '83 would be among the recipients of the University's highest individual honor. In 2008, linebacker Doug Allen '73 was announced as an honoree, but he was unable to attend the ceremony. The Distinguished Alumni Award ceremony was held this afternoon in the Nittany Lion Inn as part of Penn State's Traditional Reunion Weekend.
A college football analyst with ESPN/ABC, Blackledge, who led the Nittany Lions to the 1982 National Championship, was among seven recipients of the 2008 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award.
Blackledge re-joined ESPN in 2006 after serving as the lead analyst for CBS Sports' coverage of college football for seven seasons. The seven-year NFL veteran recently completed his third season as the lead analyst for ESPN College Football Saturday Primetime, working with play-by-play commentator Mike Patrick and reporter Holly Rowe. Blackledge also contributes to College GameDay, College Football Live, SportsCenter and ESPN Radio.
Blackledge, who joined CBS in 1999, had previously worked as a studio and game analyst for ABC Sports (1994-98) and as a game analyst for ESPN (1997-98) on Thursday night telecasts. In addition, he called pre-season games for several NFL teams, including the Colts, Eagles and Browns.
A native of North Canton, Ohio, Blackledge began his career in television by working on the Emmy Award-winning, "Penn State Football Story," produced by Mind Over Media, a Pittsburgh-based production company.
Blackledge led Penn State to an 11-1 record and its first National Championship with a 27-23 victory over previously unbeaten Georgia in the 1983 Sugar Bowl. The Hoover High School product earned the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback in 1982, was sixth in balloting for the Heisman Trophy and concluded his collegiate career with 26 school records.
A three-year starter, Blackledge directed the Nittany Lions to a 29-4 record, including 13 comeback victories, from 1980-82, including two Fiesta Bowl wins and one Sugar Bowl victory. He still holds several Penn State records, including touchdown passes in a season (22) and career (42). His game passing yardage record (358 vs. Miami, 1981) stood for 16 years and still ranks as the fourth-best in school annals.
A first round draft choice of the National Football League's Kansas City Chiefs in 1983, Blackledge played in Kansas City for five seasons and with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1988-89 before embarking on his broadcasting career.
Blackledge earned a B.A in Speech Communication in 1983, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a 3.80 grade point average. A first team Academic All-American, he also was presented the Eric Walker Award, given to the Penn State senior who has most "enhanced the esteem and recognition of the University." In 1997, Blackledge was inducted into the prestigious Academic All-America Hall of Fame.
Blackledge serves on the Board of Visitors for Penn State's Center for Sports Journalism.
Allen sees a lot of similarities between his 25-year career with the NFL Players Association and his recent employment as national executive director and chief negotiator for the Screen Actors Guild, the largest U.S. union that represents working actors, with 120,000 members. "Football players and team owners and actors and producers are really just different parts of the same industry: entertainment," he says.
As chief negotiator, Allen met with studio heads for Fox and Disney. Allen was responsible for negotiating and administering eight national collective bargaining agreements, including the high-profile agreement covering actors in movies, prime-time network television, and subscription-based television networks like HBO. That negotiation involved some of the same issues that led to last year's three-month writers' strike.
Allen tackled many high-profile issues during his time as assistant executive director of the NFL Players Association from 1982 to 2007. There, he was a key member of the NFLPA's bargaining team and was instrumental in negotiating the 1993 collective bargaining agreement between the players association and the NFL, and the subsequent extensions of the agreement through 2006.
Recruited to play football for Penn State, Allen's interest in labor issues was sparked by an introductory labor studies course. When a head injury sidelined him during the 1971 football season, he used his time off to delve deeper into his labor studies courses and extracurricular activities. A three-year letterman, Allen returned to the field in 1972 and was the starting linebacker during Penn State's undefeated 1973 season and the subsequent victory over LSU in the 1974 Orange Bowl.
During his two seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Allen played with and against early football celebrities O.J. Simpson and Joe Namath. He retired after two seasons to accept a job offer with the AFL-CIO. By 1976, Allen was the regional director for the AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education for New York and New Jersey. In 1982, he joined the NFL Players Association. At the Screen Actors Guild, Allen oversaw day-to-day operations and all executive, operational, functional, and financial matters as well as served as chief negotiator.
Allen remains involved with Penn State, helping to launch the Labor Studies and Employment Relations Alumni Program Group in 1995. He has served on the group's board since then and as president from 1995-2001. He has also contributed his time to Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics, speaking to football players about sports agents and working with the University's NCAA compliance officer. Penn State has previously honored Allen with the Liberal Arts Alumni Society Service to Penn State Award (2003) and as Outstanding Alumni Speaker (2007).