CHARLOTTE – Kyle Allen knows his days in the NFL are numbered. Just like everyone else who passes through the league, there are only a certain amount of snaps Allen will take before it's all said and done, and he finds himself hanging up the cleats for good.
That ever-present reminder of how finite his playing days in the NFL truly are has helped keep Allen grounded throughout the highs and lows of this season.
It may seem like playing quarterback in the NFL is an all-consuming job – and that's not entirely false. Allen spends between nine and 10 hours in the Panthers facility per day practicing, breaking down film and learning game plans. At home, it's time for more film study, and when he finally breaks away from football, Allen spends time with his girlfriend. But for the second-year quarterback, he wouldn't have it any other way.
"When I look at it, we started camp July 25th, and then we're eliminated from the playoffs, so we'll be done after the Saints game," Allen said. "You've got these five or six months where you have this great opportunity to play in the NFL. You don't know how long it's going to be, so I just really try to give if everything I've got and try to be fully bought in and make this my number one priority, because most guys don't get to be in the league for that long."
Allen's right. The average NFL career lasts just over three years, and that's why even when the season doesn't go as planned, Allen still tries his best to relish each moment.
"You've just got to have fun with it," Allen said. "When we're out there at practice today, you've just got to find the fun in it. Like I said, you're not going to be here for a long time. Greg's (Olsen) one of the special guys who's been here 13-plus years, but you don't see many guys like that. Just enjoy it. I'm blessed to be able to be doing this."
It's not all fun, though, especially when your team is in the midst of a five-game losing streak. Just because Allen finds the positive in things doesn't mean he takes the losses lightly. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
"We've lost a bunch of games in a row and it's been tough," Allen said. "I take these losses to heart. You can ask my girlfriend, when I come home from games, I don't do anything. I go in the shower, I go lay in my bed, and I just don't talk to anybody, because this stuff means a lot to me."
The week-to-week lifestyle of a starting NFL quarterback doesn't exactly lend itself to much time for contemplation or reflection. When the Panthers' season ends on December 29th, Allen will finally have some time to decompress and look back on everything he's been through this season – the good and the bad.
For the next three weeks, though, Allen is focused on the now, and doing his best to make the most of his opportunity.
"There's a time for that," Allen said. "I haven't even thought about that, but there will be a time right after the season where I don't think about football at all and a time where I evaluate it. Right now, I haven't even thought past Sunday."