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Thursday, August 28, 2003
Updated: August 29, 8:46 AM ET
Allen wants to return to league

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

If erstwhile rapper Mersilis is to return to the NFL as his alter-ego James Allen, as he now intends, it won't be with the Houston Texans.

Team officials have ruled out Allen coming back to the Texans, after he announced two weeks ago that he was retiring to pursue his dream to be a rap star, and he will be forced to look elsewhere for employment.

Allen on Wednesday took the first formal step toward returning to the league, when he applied to commissioner Paul Tagliabue for reinstatement, after spending two weeks on the reserve-retired list. The reinstatement is a relatively academic matter and Allen could be eligible to play again by Thursday or Friday.

The five-year veteran, originally signed by the Texans as an unrestricted free agent last spring and then re-signed to a one-year deal this year, must first pass through procedural waivers. If he is unclaimed, his rights return to the Texans, who will release him and make the former Oklahoma star a free agent.

Given the number of teams still seeking backup tailbacks, even this close to the start of the regular season, Allen figures to generate some interest. There likely would be teams willing to sign him to the minimum contract of $530,000 for a veteran of his seniority.

Allen, 28, started the first five games of the 2002 season for the Texans, then lost his job to rookie Jonathan Wells. He rushed for 519 yards on 155 carries and actually became a reliable third-down back, catching a career-best 47 passes for 302 yards.

For his career, Allen, who performs under the stage name Mersilis, has carried 670 times for 2,497 yards and four touchdowns. He also has 133 receptions for 964 yards and three scores and has appeared in 66 games with 32 starts. Allen's best season was in 2000, with the Chicago Bears, when he rushed for 1,120 yards.

Even had he remained with the Texans, it might have been difficult to earn a spot on the regular-season roster, since the club has dramatically revamped the tailback depth chart. The projected starter is Stacey Mack, signed as a free agent, and rookies Tony Hollings and Domanick Davis are the backups.

Wells, who was the leading rusher in 2002, is currently No. 4 on the depth chart and might not make the team.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.