- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 6, 2021

For two hours on Monday evenings during the season, NFL quarterback Kyle Allen and his girlfriend, Summer, have a strict rule. No cell phones. No laptops. Not even the iPad loaded with the Washington Football Team’s playbook.

The no-devices policy lasts until the season ends and a winner is crowned — a “season” referring, in this case, to the 12-week run each year of ABC’s hit reality show, “The Bachelor.” 

“You just lock in for two hours,” Allen says, “Hang out. We’ll go over to a friend’s house, we’ll get dinner, we get some snacks, we get on the couch and we’re locked in.” 

This time of year, Allen is focused on getting back in the swing of football. Washington’s three-day mandatory minicamp begins this week, and the 25-year-old is coming off a broken ankle that sidelined him for the second half of last year. But Monday marks the beginning of the seventeenth season of “The Bachelorette,” the equally popular spin-off of “The Bachelor” — and Allen knows he needs to make time for that too.

A reality show junkie, Allen said he particularly enjoys the humor of the shows, which pit more than 20 singles against each other to capture the lead’s romantic interest. 

But Allen’s fandom goes beyond that of the average viewer.

He hung out with Matt James, last season’s star bachelor, just a few months ago. And Allen’s attended a taping of “After the Final Rose” — the dramatic after-show that gives an update on the months following the filming of the finale. 

Allen even watches in a specific way.

“My thing is I normally usually try to pick like two people from the beginning and see if they pan out,” Allen said. “It’s more of a test of my judge of character. I’m trying to pick out people who are going to win based on who’s the bachelor or the bachelorette. That’s how I like to do it.” 

Allen’s most recent test produced mixed results. On the last season of “The Bachelor,” he picked Katie Thurston, the 30-year-old bank marketing manager from Reston, Washington, to win it all, only for her to finish 11th. Still, he saw something in her that producers of the show also did — given Thurston is the new bachelorette this season. “I did decent,” he said, “not great.” 

As invested as Allen is, he admits to only having started watching “The Bachelor” within the last three years. It just so happened that around that time, he scored tickets to then-”Bachelor” star Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s after-show thanks to a friend.  At the taping, Allen and his friends finagled their way down to the front row and can be seen behind host Chris Harrison.

Allen laughs at the memory. He reveals his friend, trainer and former Washington quarterback Jordan Palmer, brought eye drops along so that between breaks he could “flood his eyes” with drops to make it look like he was crying as soon as filming resumed in hopes of catching some camera time. 

And, it turns out, Palmer shared.

“I threw a couple in, yeah,” Allen says, chuckling.  “We were too far away (to be shown crying), but it was a good effort though.” 

Allen’s love for reality TV doesn’t stop at “The Bachelor.” In his downtime, he’s been catching up on past seasons of “Survivor.” And when he was hurt last season, he said that “Love Island: UK” helped “take away the boredom” of being injured. Allen, after all, went from Washington’s starting quarterback and at the team’s facility every day to being barely able to walk for two months. 

In Washington’s locker room, Allen’s television tastes aren’t exactly shared. “I usually just get [expletive] for it,” he says. He adds he’s tried to get teammates on the “Survivor train,” at least, but so far hasn’t had any luck.

Allen may just be at the forefront of a trend when it comes to “The Bachelor.” 

The franchise seems to be booming with former football players and athletes. James, who visited one of Allen’s training sessions and has mutual friends with the quarterback, was a wide receiver at Wake Forest. Former lead Colton Underwood held practice squad stints with the Chargers and Raiders. Former tight end Clay Harbor, a contestant on season 14 of “The Bachelorette,” played in 98 games in the NFL with the Eagles, Jaguars, Lions and Patriots. 

Allen thinks the reason the show draws so many athletes is simple: The competition.

“They’re used to competing on live TV and national television,” Allen said. “It’s essentially the same thing, but a different type of competition, you know?  I think we think we can win anything.”

So, that said, would Allen ever go on the show? 

“That is a very dumb question,” Allen said. “I would not. … You’re trying to get me in trouble over here.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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