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Canton Easy

There was never a doubt that Marcus Allen, maybe the most complete back in NFL history, would get there

August 03, 2003|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

CANTON, Ohio — After living the last 25 years in front of the camera, Marcus Allen is getting behind it.

The former USC Heisman Trophy winner and All-Pro running back who today will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame has gone Hollywood. He's producing a movie called "Piggybanks" and plans to begin filming late this month.

"It's along the David Lynch sort of genre," said Allen, only laughing when asked to reveal more.

Allen, who played 16 seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, has already made a contribution to the film industry. His 74-yard touchdown against Washington in 1984 -- the longest run in Super Bowl history -- became an instant classic for NFL Films .

It came on the last play of the third quarter. Allen took a handoff at the Raider 26-yard line, started left, reversed his field as two defenders closed in, shot up the middle between the hashmarks and beat a cluster of Redskins to the end zone. Untouched, unblemished, unbelievable.

"For that to come to fruition on the game's greatest stage was magical," he said. "I think every star in the sky came out for me that night. It was perfect."

If there was a moment L.A. became Allen's town, that was it.

But a messy and still-unexplained feud with owner Al Davis ended Allen's career with the Raiders after 12 seasons. He moved on to Kansas City, where he had five more productive seasons with the Chiefs before retiring after the 1997 season. He finished with 12,243 yards rushing and 5,411 receiving. He scored 145 touchdowns as arguably the best short-yardage and goal-line runner in league history.

Allen doesn't need to answer the burning question: Will he go into the Hall of Fame as a Raider or a Chief?

He'll go in as both.

New inductees are not asked to pick a team, nor does the Hall do it for them. Allen will have both teams listed on his plaque.

"I embrace both teams," said Allen, now a football analyst for CBS. "People want you to deny one team so you can elevate another. I'm not going to do that."

Allen began his career as rookie of the year and ended it as the all-time rushing touchdown leader. A former quarterback at Lincoln High in San Diego, he threw six touchdown passes during his NFL career. That further fuels the argument he was the NFL's most complete back.

"I try to avoid that argument because then you end up sounding like you're boasting about your ability," he said. "When you have HOF next to your name, there's really nothing else that needs to be said."

James Lofton, one of Allen's Raider teammates, joins him in the Class of 2003 along with coach Hank Stram, defensive end Elvin Bethea, and guard Joe DeLamielleure.

Lofton, a former academic All-America at Stanford selected in the first round by Green Bay in 1978, had more than 50 catches nine times in 16 seasons. He finished with 14,004 yards receiving, which was a league record at the time, and now is a receivers coach for the San Diego Chargers.

"What caught my eye was his intelligence," Charger Coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "You can tell that he's extremely bright. He sees the big picture."

Before Lofton left for Canton last week, his receivers huddled together and yelled, "Hall of Fame!" as they broke. Lofton walked away, almost sheepish.

"That's how he is," receiver Tim Dwight said. "He's very content on just being our coach. He rarely says anything like, `We used to do it like this or like that.' But you know when he talks, it's real. His performance speaks for itself."

Stram coached the Chiefs to two Super Bowls, losing to the Packers in Super Bowl I and beating the Minnesota Vikings three years later. During the 10-year history of the American Football League, Stram's Chiefs -- who began as the Dallas Texans -- won more games and league championships than any other AFL team.

Bethea, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection in 16 seasons with the Houston Oilers, played in an era before sacks were an official statistic. His unofficial sack total of 105 is a franchise record, however.

DeLamielleure, an eight-time All-Pro guard for Buffalo, anchored the offensive line nicknamed the "Electric Company" because it "turned the Juice loose" -- a reference to O.J. Simpson.

The running back in the spotlight today is Allen, who will be introduced by his father, Harold "Red" Allen.

"This is certainly a culmination of what I set out to do as a kid," Allen said. "And, more importantly for me, it's an opportunity for me to say thank you to my parents and my brothers and my sister, and of course the coaches and players and trainers who helped me get to this point. It's going to be one big thank-you letter."

The way Allen sees it, this doesn't punctuate his football career. It merely means this chapter is over. He's hoping the NFL will return to L.A. soon, and he would be interested in buying a piece of that team if afforded the chance.

"Those conversations have taken place with certain people," he said. "To this point, all parties are finding it very difficult because of all the politics involved. If we can get the politics out of the way, I think there's a chance for a team to come back to Los Angeles."

Assuming someone provides the piggybanks.

Staff writer Lonnie White contributed to this report.


(Begin Text of Infobox)




* Position: Running back

* Teams: 1982-97, Raiders, Chiefs

* Numbers: 12,243 yds. rushing;

145 TDs



* Position: Defensive end

* Team: 1968-83, Houston Oilers

* Numbers: 210 games played



* Position: Guard

* Teams: 1973-85, Bills, Browns

* Numbers: 185 games played



* Position: Wide receiver

* Teams: 1978-93: Packers, Raiders, Bills, Rams, Eagles

* Numbers: 764 rec., 14,004 yds.



* Coach

* Teams: 1960-74: Dallas Texans/K.C. Chiefs; 1976-77: N.O. Saints; 131-97-10 (regular season)

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