I enjoy watching the series “A Football Life” on NFL Network. Marcus Allen happened to be the player that was profiled. I hate to admit this but even I, a life-long Raiders fan, had almost forgotten about the greatest player in Raiders history.
It all started at Lincoln High school in San Diego. He played on defense at Lincoln High in SD, he loved to hit. When the head coach had him play QB, Marcus purposely fumbled the ball on 8 straight snaps in defiance. He wanted his father to knock some sense into his coach. Instead his father told Marcus to be a team player. It worked out well as in his Senior year at QB he led his team to a win in the state championship game in which Marcus scored all 5 of his teams touchdowns (he also played DB on defense).
His superior play earned him a scholarship to the University of Southern California. His first 2 season’s Marcus was the halfback for Charles White, who ended up with the Heisman in 1978. When Marcus got his turn, he did not disappoint. His junior year, he rushed for over 1,500 yards. His senior season, Marcus was on fire as he was the first player in collegiate history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. It was a performance that earned him the 1981 Heisman Trophy for himself.
Things could not have been better for Allen, as his hometown Los Angeles Raiders drafted him with their first pick (10th overall) in the 1982 draft. He rewarded the Raiders by becoming Rookie of the Year. The following year, he stole the show in the Super Bowl XVIII as he was the driving force in the Raiders 38-9 drubbing of the Washington Redskins (defending Super Bowl Champs). He rushed for a then SB record 191 yards on only 20 carries with 2 TD’s, earning SB XVIII MVP honors. After the game President Reagan talked to Tom Flores and said that the Russians thought Marcus was some sort of new secret weapon and that they wanted him dismantled immediately. Marcus continued to amaze and impress as he won the NFL MVP in 1985. Marcus was really the first player that I saw that had it all. He could run, he could pass, he could block. Unfortunately, it seems that owner Al Davis felt the same as the Russians. There was a falling-out of sorts between Allen and Davis. Allen told Davis that he thought he should run the ball more, Davis returned with something about he could run laps instead. I think that Al was miffed because in his mind, Marcus was somehow stealing the limelight from him. That somehow Marcus was bigger than himself and his beloved Raiders. The end result was Al brought in other running backs to take his job. He was a fullback for Bo Jackson for 4 seasons till Bo suffered a career ending hip injury in the playoffs. Davis brought in Roger Craig (’91) and Eric Dickerson (’92), to take his job. Fed up, Allen finally left the Raiders and finished out his HOF career with the arch-rival Kansas City Chiefs. He played 6 more seasons as a Chief and was NFL Comeback player of the year in 1993. His final numbers: 16 years, 12,243 yards rushing, 5,411 receiving, 144 touchdowns. Marcus said “football is a simple game when you know what you are doing”. There is no disputing that.
Bottom line: I feel bad for Marcus Allen. He should have played his entire career with the Raiders. His career stats should have been more. He is one of the most versatile and knowledgeable RB’s the NFL has ever known. If I had to win one game, Marcus is who I would want to win it.