Boardroom sat down with NFL star Jonathan Allen at his home to discuss his passion for gaming, his investments in local DC youth, and his interests outside of football.
Allen has been gaming for as long as he can remember. He fondly remembers Crash Bandicoot was the first game he ever played on the original PlayStation 1 console. Still, PC gaming is how he spends most of his gaming time now after watching his father and brother build their computers to game on. Fun fact: Allen doesn’t use any wireless tech products in his PC gaming setup to avoid streaming and gameplay lags.
Allen plays games on his phone during the season when he can, but in the offseason, he said he probably puts in between 80 and 100 hours a week of gameplay on his PC. Allen uses his favorite hobby to relax, escape, and find peace. He said gaming also helps keep him mentally locked in and feeling refreshed.
Some of his favorite games include Total War: Warhammer, Rainbow Six Siege, and Summoners War. Allen enjoys strategy games the most, the ones that put him in a competitive mode.
“For me, gaming is my number form of relaxation. It’s one of the things that has helped me get to where I’m at now,” Allen told Boardroom in an exclusive video interview. “I can easily do 12 to 14 hours in one day.”
Boardroom sat down with Allen at his home to discuss his passion for gaming, his investments in local DC youth, and his business interests outside of football.
Allen was born in Anniston, Alabama, and he traveled a lot growing up since his father was in the military. His family settled in the Virginia area when he was roughly 13 years old, and Allen went to Stone Bridge High School before attending the University of Alabama.
Building community has always been at the center of Allen’s philanthropic work. Allen and his wife, Hannah, often talk about meaningful and impactful ways to give back to the community besides dishing out money. Since Allen spent some time in the homeless shelter growing up, he and his wife decided that DC-based Sasha Bruce Youthwork was the best organization to invest in. Sasha Bruce is a homeless shelter for youth under 18 years old that helps connect young people with safe homes, educational workshops, and life skill services.
“I feel like that’s the easiest thing you can do,” Allen said. “We want to be able to do something more.”
One of the couple’s first orders of business at Sasha Bruce was building the Jonathan and Hannah Allen Innovation Lounge, which serves as a multidisciplinary space equipped with computers, gaming equipment, a study area, wireless internet, and more.
Allen is consistently looking to partner with other tech-focused companies and foundations to expand his charitable work. That’s how he became part-owner of an esports company with the Institute for Athletes (IFA), a full-service sports agency specializing in player representation, brand marketing, and consulting.
Allen said his part-ownership in Wisdom Gaming came about so organically. When his agency, IFA, discovered his gaming interests, it connected him with the growing gaming brand. Wisdom Gaming is an esports content-creation company that spun out of IFA in 2019. The Minneapolis-based company also advises brands and hosts activations from its studio inside the Mall of America.
Allen now represents Wisdom Gaming when he streams and will work with the company more closely in the future.
“I understand that football is not going to be here forever,” Allen said. “I try to focus on football and then worry about Wisdom Gaming in the offseason. They’re really great about not putting too many commitments on me and allowing me to do it for the love of it.”
Life After Football
Allen foresees himself taking gaming on as a real profession once his football career ends, but he doesn’t want to lose his passion for it. He’s made it clear that he’s not in the industry to make monetary profits, and he never wants to feel obligated to stream or push subscribers to watch him game.
“The one thing I always want to be very careful of is never making gaming feel like a job,” Allen said. “Everything I do is because I want to do it.”
Allen said he loves gaming so much that sometimes he doesn’t want to make gaming a job and ruin the experience for himself. He’s even dabbled with the idea of football coaching when he retires from football, and he also wants to save time to run marathons with his wife since that’s her favorite hobby.
Lucky for him, he has plenty of time to cement his decision while he continues his promising NFL career.
“Right now, in the prime of my career, it’s hard for me to hone in what I want to do after football,” he said. “For the rest of my life, I’ll always be a gamer. My dad is 60 years old, and he still plays video games. There is nothing that’ll make me stop.”
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