Allen relishes being a Raider

Veteran cornerback happy on winning team, eyes first Super Bowl

January 13, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND Calif. - Before he took his first snap in an Oakland Raiders uniform, cornerback Eric Allen had to clear something up with his teammates.

Allen made sure his new team knew that he was, in fact, glad to be a Raider after the New Orleans Saints traded him in March 1998.

The rumor was that Allen, 35, wanted to go to San Francisco, which, to a certain degree, was true. San Francisco is a team with a winning tradition, and Allen wanted to be part of that. But after that trade fell through, Allen wanted the Raiders to know he was fine with being a part of their winning tradition.

"That was something I had to clear up with the team early on," Allen said. "It wasn't about me wanting to be in San Francisco. It was about me wanting me to be on a team that had a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Now that I'm here, I'm very happy.

"I know my family is very ecstatic. They're only an hour away by plane so ticket requests have been booming. It is a good feeling now."

Allen tied with William Thomas to lead the Raiders with six interceptions this season. It was the second time in his 13-year career that Allen recorded six interceptions in a season.

His career high of eight came in 1989, where he played a major part in the Philadelphia Eagles' top-notch defense featuring Reggie White and Jerome Brown. Allen spent seven seasons in Philadelphia before signing with the Saints in 1995.

It looked like Allen's career, which includes six Pro Bowl selections, would come to an end in his first season with the Raiders in 1998. He sustained a season-ending knee injury while returning an interception in the 10th game of the season against Seattle.

But Allen returned for a solid 1999 season. He has maintained a high level the past two seasons despite playing on the opposite side of Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson.

Woodson is reaching his prime, which means Allen has seen more balls thrown his way recently than he has most of his career.

Woodson, in just his third season, and Allen provide quite a contrast in age for one position.

"I enjoy talking with him," Allen said of Woodson. "Getting the young side of what this thing [is all] about. He's in his third year, and hopefully this is not the last opportunity for him, myself and everyone to play in these type of games."

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