February 2, 2013

Larry Legend: Offensive lineman Larry Allen joins Bill Parcells in 2013 Hall of Fame class

Larry Allen becomes the 14th Cowboy headed to Canton.

NEW ORLEANS -- Larry Allen never showed much emotion in his 14-year playing career. But he couldn't hold it back Saturday when he heard his named called for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, shedding tears of joy.

Allen, who was eligible for the first time, joined former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells in the Class of 2013. Defensive tackle Warren Sapp, receiver Cris Carter, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, defensive tackle Curley Culp and linebacker Dave Robinson are the other players who will be enshrined in Canton this summer.

"Just to be selected as a first-ballot Hall of Famer is special, real special," said Allen, who cried at learning of his election. "As far as football, besides the Ring of Honor, this is the best thing to happen to me."

Allen might have been the closest thing to a sure thing as there was on the list of 15 modern-era finalists. Allen, who played 12 of his 14 seasons in Dallas, is one of only 14 position players in the history of the game named to two all-decade teams, and all 14 now are in the Hall of Fame with Allen and Sapp's elections Saturday.

Still, Allen waited nervously for the announcement as he held his wife's hand in Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' bus.

"Just going crazy. About to pop," said Allen, the organization's 14th Hall of Famer.

Allen started at four offensive line positions and is one of only three offensive linemen to earn Pro Bowl berths at multiple positions. He was invited to 11 Pro Bowls, 10 with the Cowboys, and he was All-Pro six times.

Allen gave up an average of only 3.2 sacks per season, best of any offensive lineman in his era, and he had only 13 holding penalties in 207 career starts, including the playoffs.

That is why his election was easier than most. Though the selection meeting lasted a record 8 hours, 20 minutes, Allen was discussed only 9 minutes.

"It didn't look like it was a contest," Hudson Houck, who also coached Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz, Bruce Matthews and Jackie Slater, said in a phone interview. "It should have been easy.

"I was a little sentimental about it. I thought about what a great person he is and how hard he worked to get there. His work ethic is as good as anybody I've ever been around. It was really important for him, and obviously important for us as well. It's nice to be associated with somebody who works so hard and gets the reward because of it."

Jones, who flew back to Dallas before Allen learned of his induction, will present Allen. Jones also presented Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.

"Larry is one of the greatest players in Cowboys history, and arguably the very best guard to ever play the game," Jones said in a statement. "He was obviously a special talent, but the fierceness and tenacity that he brought to the field separated him from the rest of the pack. I have never been more proud of anyone who has reached the Pro Football Hall Fame. Larry Allen represents the best of the very best."

Allen goes in with Parcells, the coach who cut him after the 2005 season. Allen played two more seasons with the 49ers and earned one more Pro Bowl berth.

"I still got another job. It's all right," Allen said, chuckling.

Parcells' candidacy generated the longest discussion for the second consecutive year, lasting 54 minutes. It was the fourth time for Parcells to be discussed. He also was a finalist in 2001 and '02 before he unretired and returned to coaching with the Cowboys, where he stayed for four seasons.

"It's tremendous," Parcells said in a conference call. "We're going crazy here. It's unbelievable, just exhilarating. It is a big thrill to join such an elite group, especially the coaches who preceded me in the Hall of Fame. They're the ones that paved the way."

Defensive end Charles Haley will have to wait another year. Haley made the cut to 10 but got no closer than last year. Haley has been eligible for the Hall of Fame for eight years, with this his fourth as a finalist.

Charean Williams


Twitter: @NFLCharean

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