Greetings, Falcoholics, welcome to the third edition of The Falcoholic’s Staff Spotlight. This series is similar to the “Fan Spotlight” articles, however, instead we profile a current staff member of The Falcoholic. You’ve read their articles, now get to know them a little bit more. This week’s “Staff Spotlight” is on The Falcoholic’s Allen Strk.
Allen has been with The Falcoholic since 2015, and is a phenomenal analyst of Atlanta Falcons’ game film. Aside from growing as a writer and media member, Allen has done other business ventures such as working at Billboard in 2018, which he recalls as “An incredible experience. Music has always been one of my biggest passions. To work for a premier entertainment music brand was something I’ll forever cherish.”
Allen also enjoys working out, standup comedy, and listening to podcasts. He resides in New York City, and is constantly doing something. Meeting new people and checking out different places is something he loves doing, especially as someone who works in media and does some modeling for brands and companies.
I asked Allen some questions, so let’s get started.
How did you become an Atlanta Falcons fan, and how did you begin writing for The Falcoholic?
My brother was a huge Minnesota Vikings fan growing up. Even though I liked the teams he supported (Vikings and Miami Heat), I enjoyed seeing the Vikings lose for some reason. I was five years old at the time, so I essentially had no idea what was going on. I remember watching my first full football game two weeks later. Despite getting trounced by Denver in the Super Bowl, the Falcons were still a fun team to me. Everything about them seemed cool. Jamal Anderson was the man. Ray Buchanan was the type of cornerback you want on your defense. I love going back and watching highlights from that season.
I’ve always strongly believed in loyalty. Regardless of what happens, you have to stick with your childhood team. It didn’t matter that the Falcons struggled for the most part between 1999-2003. The whole Michael Vick-Bobby Petrino debacle didn’t change anything for me. The Falcons are my childhood team. I didn’t care that most of my friends were Giants or Jets fans. I’m going to believe in the team that I am most passionate about. If it means spending $270 dollars to watch them score two points in a playoff game, I have to accept it and still remain loyal. That’s how it should be as a fan of any team.
I started dreaming about becoming a writer since I turned 16 years old. I would read ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and Sporting News on a consistent basis. All I really wanted for Christmas was to make sure my magazine subscription package was set for the next year. That’s how much I loved writing and sports. I started taking writing seriously at 19 years old. Writing for smaller websites helped me establish myself. After the 2014 season ended, I reached out to Dave Choate about joining the staff. He was immediately interested in bringing me on board. We had been friends since 2013. Everything quickly came together when we talked about how I would fit in. I joined the staff right before Dan Quinn got hired. I’ll never forget walking to Baruch College (college I went to) and seeing the announcement on Twitter. It was awesome.
As an Atlanta Falcons and Croatia fan, which was more upsetting; Super Bowl LI or the 2018 World Cup?
Croatia is my number one team. Most of my family was born there. I have been there seven times. It’s a beautiful place. As great as the NFL is, there is nothing quite like a major international tournament. I get together with hundreds of Croatians every two years to support the national team during the World Cup and Euro Cup. We sing, drink, and dance for hours. Last summer was one of the greatest summers of my life. It was essentially a one-month party watching Croatia win six matches. They did it in some of the most dramatic and emphatic ways possible.
Although the Croatia national team is my favorite team, I have to go with Super Bowl LI. All I wanted Croatia to do was make it to the quarterfinals last summer. They went above and beyond in surpassing those expectations. As for the Falcons in 2016-2017, I really thought they were going to win it all. They had a historically good offense with an offensive mastermind calling the shots. The defense was starting to improve led by a fiery head coach, who did a tremendous job of rebuilding them in two seasons. The wins over Seattle and Green Bay were incredible. The first half against New England went extremely well. How it all fell apart was insane.
I partied the whole day after Croatia lost to France. It was the greatest sporting achievement for the country. After ten minutes of being consoled by friends, I couldn’t help but smile and go celebrate one last time. I had to do my podcast and two radio interviews after Super Bowl LI. I didn’t go to bed till 3:30 in the morning. There was definitely no partying that night.
Of all the Atlanta Falcons’ interviews you’ve done, which was your favorite?
I always enjoy talking to Ricardo Allen. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing him three times. Speaking to him after the Falcons’ opening night loss to Philadelphia was a memorable interview. He gave me six minutes of his time, which completely blew me away. It was the Falcons’ second consecutive loss in Philadelphia. Both games ended in brutal fashion. It was well past midnight, yet he still answered every question candidly.
Ricardo Allen always provides great insight during every interview. For him to give me that much time meant a lot to me. We talked about Doug Pederson’s philosophy, Damontae Kazee’s rise, and other technical aspects about the game. He is a fantastic person. I have interviewed Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Mohamed Sanu, Keanu Neal, Robert Alford, Dwight Freeney, Dontari Poe, Vic Beasley, Jacob Tamme, Ryan Schraeder, and Sharrod Neasman. There are a couple of players I’m probably missing. Allen will always be my favorite out of all of them. I hope he becomes an analyst or hosts his own podcast someday.
As a passionate advocate for mental health awareness, is there anything you want to say to any readers who might be going through difficult situations in their life?
Find your purpose in life and commit to it. There is something out there for you, where you can apply yourself towards benefitting the world. There must be some career path for you to take, where you can make a difference in someone’s life. That’s been my mindset for years. I enjoy writing more than anything else in the world. I always want to captivate and inform readers with every article I put together. It doesn’t matter if the piece has 500 or 2,500 words. When people read my work, they are going to hopefully learn something and appreciate it. I always try to help others as much as possible. That’s something I believe everyone can connect with.
In regards to going through difficult situations, you have to be open and honest about it. Keeping all your emotions bottled up will eat you alive. It happened to me in 2017. I started suffering from severe depression in June 2017. I didn’t tell anyone until the last week of August. Once I started talking to those close to me, I started to recover. I also started reading more about mental health related topics, watching inspirational videos, and doing yoga to get myself mentally right. It wasn’t until March 2018, where I finally felt fully serenity in my life. I battled with it for almost a full year.
Unfortunately, depression can come back following multiple difficult personal setbacks. The last six months have been hard on me. It’s difficult dealing with things such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Thankfully, I’ve used the resources around me to fight it. Sometimes, you can’t be reliant on friends and family. You have to go to therapy and speak with a certified therapist. That person can help guide you from an objective perspective. You need that person to assess your issues, evaluate past negative experiences, and help you improve through open communication. I started going to therapy again recently after going in January and February. I would recommend it to anyone who is suffering from some sort of mental illness or traumatic experience.
What’s your outlook/prediction on the upcoming season?
I can’t make an official prediction until late August. You never know what could happen in the preseason. The Falcons should obviously do better this season. They are too talented not to win at least nine games. How they improve in the trenches will determine if they can be serious contenders again. They were manhandled in far too many games last season. You can’t expect to win games while getting pummeled up front on both sides of the ball. Matt Ryan struggled to get the ball out at times last season. The pass rush was non-existent for large portions of the season. Unless Mohamed Sanu ran the wildcat, they couldn’t convert in short-yardage situations. Both lines were simply abysmal.
Other players will need to emerge for them to contend. Jake Matthews, Alex Mack, and Grady Jarrett can’t be the only players performing at a high level up front. Other than Jack Crawford, it’s hard to pinpoint any offensive or defensive linemen who played consistently well last season. If both lines show improvement, the Falcons will make the playoffs. If one or two difference makers emerge up front, they can compete with teams like the Rams and Eagles.
Is there anything you want to say to The Falcoholic readers?
You can follow me on Twitter at @Allen_Strk. I try to interact with everyone as much as possible. I’m always going to be grateful for whoever follows and appreciates my work. Writing about sports has always been my dream. After writing about MMA and basketball for a bit, I became fully committed to football in 2015. I haven’t looked back since. I’m still open to writing about other sports and topics. It’s important to be adaptable in today’s world. I try to avoid saying that will never happen. Who knows what could happen? For now, I plan on covering the Falcons and providing as much informative content as possible.
Well folks, that wraps up another edition of The Falcoholic’s Staff Spotlight. I’d like to personally thank Allen for sharing his opinions and thoughts with us. Allen is not only one of the nicest individuals you’ll come across, he’s also one of the most talented writers, so make sure to follow him on Twitter (@Allen_Strk) where he breaks down Falcons game film during the season.
Additionally, you can find me on Twitter @EvanBirchfield. If you missed any of the past editions of The Falcoholic’s Staff Spotlight, you can view them by clicking the links below. Thanks for reading, Falcoholics!