Hall induction one more score for Allen

With 145 career TDs, rusher leads '03 class of 5, including Lofton, Stram

Pro Football

January 26, 2003|By Jerry Brewer | Jerry Brewer,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SAN DIEGO - People kept approaching Marcus Allen to congratulate him. They just knew he was about to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, even though the votes had not been tallied.

Finally, after shaking so many hands and smiling so wide, Allen stopped the premature celebration.

"I appreciate it, but just don't mention it anymore," Allen said. "It's just driving me crazy."

As sure a thing as he seemed, Allen was too nervous.

"It's like the guy who makes 39 straight free throws," he said. "Then, when you mention it, he misses."

Allen did not miss, though. He could not miss. An hour after apprehension, he sighed. He made it in his first year of eligibility.

The class of 2003 also will include Elvin Bethea, Joe DeLamielleure, James Lofton and Hank Stram, the former coach who went in as the senior candidate. They will be enshrined Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.

"This is the greatest day in my athletic career," Allen said.

Allen, the running back who played for the Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, was the first player in NFL history to rush for more than 10,000 yards and amass at least 5,000 receiving yards. He finished with 12,243 rushing yards, 5,411 receiving yards and 145 career touchdowns in his 16-year career. He was an explosive all-around talent, but Allen may be remembered more as the best short-yardage and goal-line runner ever.

"I appreciate that, but I hate it," Allen said.

After 11 years with the Raiders, Allen left for Kansas City after an ugly contract dispute with the franchise. His problem was with owner Al Davis, who had called him "a cancer on the team."

Allen tried to be diplomatic about the matter yesterday. He even said he would like to go into the Hall recognized as a Raider and a Chief. But football players do not have to declare in the same manner as baseball players.

"It's virtually impossible to ignore the good years with the Raiders," said Allen, who was the Most Valuable Player of the 1984 Super Bowl. "I only had a problem with one individual who made my stay there difficult.

"I'd like to do something special and go in representing both teams. I don't know it that's possible, but that's what I'd like to do."

The other 2003 inductees had to wait longer than Allen.

Bethea, a defensive end who played 16 seasons with the Houston Oilers, had been eligible for 15 years. "I've taken two showers for the last two years just waiting for this call," Bethea said, describing his day. "I'm just excited. I can't believe it."

DeLamielleure, a guard who played 13 seasons with Buffalo and Cleveland, was the lead blocker for O.J. Simpson, who rushed for 2,003 yards in 1973.

"It's kind of ironic," he said. "This is the year 2003. That's what O.J. rushed for."

The other selections were Lofton, the wide receiver who caught 764 passes over 16 seasons, and Stram, who coached 17 seasons, including with the Dallas Texans of the American Football League. The Texans then moved to Kansas City. He guided the Chiefs to two Super Bowls, including a victory over Minnesota in 1970.

As always, there were disappointed players who missed the nod. Fifteen were hoping to get in. Quarterback Ken Stabler, wide receiver Art Monk and linebacker Harry Carson were among the players who will have to wait longer. Former Miami guard Bob Kuechenberg, a member of the 1972 undefeated team, also did not make this class.

"The longer you wait, the sweeter it is," Bethea could finally say.

"I would've played for a cap and a T-shirt," DeLamielleure said.

Now he gets a bust and immortality.

Jerry Brewer is a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

First-year inductees

Marcus Allen is the latest member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to be elected in his first year of eligibility:

Player Year

Marcus Allen 2003

Lance Alworth 1978

Raymond Berry 1973

Geroge Blanda 1981

Mel Blount 1989

Terry Bradshaw 1989

Jim Brown 1971

Willie Brown 1984

Dick Butkus 1979

Earl Campbell 1991

Eric Dickerson 1999

Dan Fouts 1993

Joe Green 1987

Forrest Gregg 1977

Jack Ham 1988

John Hannah 1991

Franco Harris 1990

Ken Houston 1986

Deacon Jones 1980

Jim Kelly 2002

Jack Lambert 1990

Tom Landry 1990

Jim Langer 1987

Steve Largent 1995

Bob Lilly 1980

Ronnie Lott 2000

Gino Marchetti 1972

Ollie Matson 1972

Hugh McElhenny 1970

Joe Montana 2000

Anthony Munoz 1998

Ray Nitschke 1978

Chuck Noll 1993

Leo Nomellini 1969

Merlin Olsen 1982

Jim Otto 1980

Jim Parker 1973

Walter Payton 1993

Joe Perry 1969

Gale Sayers 1977

Don Shula 1997

O.J. Simpson 1985

Mike Singletary 1998

Jackie Slater 2001

Bart Starr 1977

Roger Staubach 1985

Ernie Stautner 1969

Jan Stenerud 1991

Lawrence Taylor 1999

Johnny Unitas 1979

Gene Upshaw 1987

Paul Warfield 1983

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