ANDERSON — The best nicknames tend to be the most simple.
“Sweetness” seemed to capture the essence of Walter Payton on and off the field. “Prime Time” perfectly described Deion Sanders’ penchant for seeking out the spotlight. And “Captain Comeback” was a hard-earned moniker for Jim Harbaugh as he led the Indianapolis Colts to the AFC Championship Game following the 1995 regular season.
That’s why tight end Dwayne Allen thinks “Meal Ticket” is a perfect fit for second-year quarterback Andrew Luck.
“If he doesn’t produce, none of us eat,” Allen said following Tuesday’s morning walkthrough at Anderson University. “That simple.”
There’s just one potential hurdle. Luck isn’t too fond of the handle.
But Allen’s treating that fact the way he does most oncoming linebackers and pushing it aside.
“Who likes their nickname?” Allen asked rhetorically. “I’m not giving it because it’s something you like. I’m giving you a nickname because my easiest way is the first thing that comes to my mind to describe you. And, in Andrew’s case, Meal Ticket.”
Allen then provided a few examples of some nicknames he enjoys. Johnny Football, for the current Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. And “The Truth” for NBA star Paul Pierce, who recently was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Brooklyn Nets.
“Please, call me ‘The Truth’ any day,” Allen said. “I like that.”
Allen’s own nickname? Chuckie, as in the killer doll from the “Child’s Play” series of horror movies.
Why? Well, it’s best to let the second-year tight end explain it himself.
“‘Child’s Play’ was real big in ‘91, and my first birthday they gave me a knife to cut a cake,” he said. “Instead of cutting the cake, I was chasing around a dog. It wasn’t really a good look. So they nicknamed me Chuckie.”
At least that explains why Allen is such a big fan of Pep Hamilton’s new focus on the physical aspects of offensive football. The tight ends will be moving all around the field this year. Depending on the formation, they could be lined up as a fullback, H-back or even wide receiver.
But the focus of everything the Colts do will be inflicting punishment on the opposing defense.
“Our identity is going to be a physical, running team,” Allen said. “I’m not telling a secret. It’s not a secret to anyone on this team, and it shouldn’t be a secret to anyone in the U.S. by now as much as Pep Hamilton has talked about it.”
Hamilton is particularly fond of Allen.
He displayed a nasty streak as a blocker during his rookie season, racing in front of his running back in search of his next target. That kind of mentality — a lust for collisions — is integral to Hamilton’s philosophy.
“Dwayne is a horseshoe guy,” Hamilton said. “He’s physical at the point of attack, but at the same time, he has the potential to be an explosive playmaker. He is a leader on our offense. He has a no-nonsense mentality on the football field. We’re excited about Dwayne and what he can offer our offense this season.”
No more excited than Allen himself.
“I’m extremely excited about [the new offense],” he said. “I’ve said it before, nothing excites me more, not even scoring a touchdown myself, than throwing a key block to watch my running back go and score.”
It’s guaranteed to be a good year for the 23-year-old. He spent his offseason flying back to Clemson about once every three weeks as he worked on finishing his degree.
As a result, in December, he’ll become the first member of his family to graduate from college. And — as much as he enjoys inventing nicknames and throwing blocks — nothing is going to top that.
“Definitely up there with my first NFL touchdown,” he said. “I feel like being a college graduate, it will be over that, being honest, because that’s a huge accomplishment and not a lot of people do that. Especially where I come from.”
Perhaps, “The Truth” is the best fit for Allen after all.