Allen, Marcus 1960–
Marcus Allen 1960–
Professional football player
Marcus Allen was born on March 26, 1960, to Harold and Gwen Allen in San Diego, CA. As a child he was interested in many different activities such as singing in the church choir, but his real passion was sports. Allen attended Lincoln High School and played football, where he was a standout on the defensive side of the ball. He made a commitment to playing offense only during his senior year, when he became the team’s quarterback. In 1977 he led Lincoln to the county championship. Allen received national attention after scoring five touchdowns in the game. When it came time for Allen to select a college, he had scholarship offers as a defensive player, but very few universities showed interest in him as an offensive player. All of his other offers fell to the wayside when the University of Southern California (USC) offered him a scholarship. He wanted to be a USC Trojan even if that meant he would never play offense. Allen began his career at USC as a defensive back, but when injuries thinned out the tailback position, Coach John Robinson asked the awestruck freshman to move to the offensive side of the ball. Allen agreed and a Hall of Fame football player was born.
Allen played sparingly behind Charles White, who was having an All-American season. During Allen’s sophomore year, he moved to fullback, taking on linemen and linebackers who weighed 100 pounds or more than the 19-year-old converted defensive back. Though he endured horrendous punishment, it was better than sitting the bench, and he helped Charles White win the Heisman Trophy. Allen rushed for his first ever 100 yard game against Texas Tech when White was injured, but spent the rest of the season blocking. In his junior year Allen was named the starting tailback, but was criticized for not performing as spectacularly as White. He gained 1,563 yards to finish second in the nation in rushing, but many USC fans and alumni were not satisfied with the team or its tailback. Despite what many considered to be a down year at tailback, Allen entered the 1981 season proclaiming that he would gain 2,000 yards—more than any other college running back in the history of the game. Allen began his senior season ripping off 210 yards against Tennessee, 274 against Indiana, and 208 against second-ranked Oklahoma. Allen rolled to 2,342 yards in his final season, capping
At a Glance…
Born March 26, 1960 in San Diego, CA to Harold and Gwen Allen; Education: Graduated from the University of Southern California.
Career: In college set the all-time single season rushing record with 2,342 yards, 1981; First round selection of the Oakland Raiders, led NFL in scoring, 1982; set NFL combined rushing and receiving record with 2,314 yards, 1985; Acquired as a free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs, 1993; First player in NFL to record 10,000 yards rushing and 5,000 yards receiving, 1995; broke rushing touchdown record of 110, 1996; retired and moved to broadcasting for CBS Sports, 1997.
Awards: Heisman Trophy and Consensus Ail-American, 1981; NFL Rookie of the Year, 1982; Super Bowl XVIII MVP, 1982; NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, 1985; Chiefs MVP, 1993; Pro Bowl Selection, 1982-1987, 1993.
his last game as a Trojan with a 219-yard effort in the Rose Bowl. Allen won the Heisman Trophy with 1,797 points and 441 first place votes.
Allen was considered too slow coming out of college for a premier running back position in the NFL, so he trained with, UCLA track coach Jim Bush. Another knock against Allen was that he liked the high life too much as a friend of fellow Heisman Trophy winner and USC tailback O.J. Simpson. On draft day, the recently relocated Los Angeles Raiders made Allen their first round pick and the tenth pick all-around. After a long training camp, Allen was named the starter and rushed for 100 yards in his first game. Then following the second week of the season, the players went on strike for eight weeks. Though Allen signed for a $400,000 bonus and made $150,000 a year, he still lived in a hotel in Oakland with no car. After the strike-marred 1982 season ended, Allen was named the Rookie of the Year and was invited to the Pro Bowl.
In Allen’s second season, he rushed for 1,014 yards and the Raiders went to the Super Bowl against the heavily favored Washington Redskins. The Raiders dominated the Redskins and won the game 38-9. Allen was named the game’s MVP after gaining 191 yards on 20 carries.
Socially Allen traveled in lofty circles. He was a regular guest at Simpson’s Brentwood estate with Al Cowlings and other sports luminaries such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ahmad Rashad, and Lynn Swann. But his success was leading him to trouble as he gained more attention from the media and the Raiders team and owner got less. Raiders maverick owner Al Davis was becoming increasingly aware that one of his players was being singled out above the team. Allen continued his individual brilliance the following year in 1984, leading the league in touchdowns with 18 and gaining 1,168 yards, but the Raiders faltered. By the end of the season Davis was openly calling Allen a selfish player to his coaching staff.
Allen went into the 1985 season at the top of his game and became the centerpiece of the Raiders offense. He justified the organization’s confidence with a breakout season. He gained 1,759 yards on the ground and set a single-season NFL record with 2,314 total yards. He was named the Player of the Year and voted to his third Pro Bowl, but the 12-4 Raiders again lost in the first round of the playoffs. Davis was soon complaining about the team being too “one dimensional.”
Allen hoped to follow up the 1985 season with another strong campaign, but he injured his ankle in the third game. Despite the lack of any fracture, the pain did not go away throughout the season. Allen tried to play through the pain and even took a shot of painkillers before one game to be able to play. But he could not play the same. In a pivotal game with the Philadelphia Eagles, Allen fumbled the ball as the Raiders were in the midst of a game-winning drive, and the team lost the game. The Raiders lost the next four contests to finish the season out of the playoffs. Many Raiders observers felt that Allen’s career with the organization went downhill after that one game against the Eagles.
The 1987 season opened again with a players’ strike. Davis viewed the action as a personal betrayal rather than a work stoppage. Allen was one of the players who stayed out of camp over the course of the entire strike. He had another surprise waiting for him when he returned to the Raiders. Davis signed baseball player and college football star Bo Jackson to play for the team in the second half of the season. Allen regarded this move as an attempt to replace him, but he kept his feelings to himself. Midway through a frustrating season, he even volunteered to play fullback while Jackson played tailback. This arrangement improved the tense situation, but the Raiders were a team in decline. Longtime Raiders head coach Tom Flores even retired after the disappointing 1987 season.
The new man to lead the Raiders was former Broncos assistant Mike Shanahan. Shanahan tried to change the Raiders’ long-ball system, but was often overruled by Davis. Allen had another mediocre campaign in 1988 splitting time with Jackson. He gained 831 yards on the ground and caught only 34 passes. The only bright side of the 1988 season for Allen came outside of the professional arena. He met Kathryn Eickstaedt, a model from Wisconsin, who would become his wife.
Allen’s contract was up after the season and his agent was made to wait until the beginning of the next regular season for a new contract offer. Allen returned to a team in turmoil. Shanahan was fired after four games. The next coach was former Raiders player and assistant coach Art Shell, the first black head coach in the NFL. Allen’s excitement at playing for the new coach was tempered after he injured his knee in the first game of Shell’s tenure. He spent eight weeks on the inactive list and did not get significant playing time for the rest of the season. The 1990 season began as the previous one did—with Allen holding out, or, depending on one’s point of view, being held out. When he finally returned to camp, he was listed as the fourth running back. And matters did not improve for the former star. Allen claimed that all the coaches had been instructed by Davis not to play him and even Raider quarterback Jay Schroeder had been told not to throw the ball his way. Though the Raiders won the AFL West that year, Allen was used only in short yardage situations when the team desperately needed yards. The 1991 season started off badly as he tore a ligament in his knee in the first game. Allen missed eight games, and the Raiders lost to Kansas City in the first round of the playoffs.
In 1992 the five-time Pro Bowl player was again listed fourth on the depth chart. Allen was told before games that he would not be playing and was used only for third-down plays. He would sit on the end of the bench separate from the rest of the team. After walking out of practice one day, Allen decided he had had enough. He called Shell and demanded to be traded, but Shell told him Davis would not trade him. After confronting Davis, Allen was told that no other team would be interested in him. Allen was stuck being the best football player on a team that would not play him. Allen felt he had no choice but to file a free agency lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL. During the Raiders game against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football, ABC aired an interview that Allen had done just before the game with Al Michaels. Allen unloaded on Davis accusing the Raiders’ owner of trying to ruin his career. Allen’s interview was so incendiary that Michaels told Allen to call if he wanted to retract any of his statements. Allen would not back down and the interview was aired. The reaction was immediate. Though Davis made no public statement, Coach Shell went on the air, accusing Allen of lying. Despite all the division he had caused within the organization, Allen’s teammates voted to give him the Commitment to Excellence Award as the team’s most inspirational player. After 11 years with the team, his time with the Raiders was over. Allen told Sport magazine’s Dan Dieffenbach that he was not bitter about his time with Los Angeles: “To me, it is all an education. It was a wonderful education. Although I hated it, I didn’t realize it at the time. When I was going through it, there was not light at the end of the tunnel for me, but when you look back at it and deal with everything, it was a tremendous experience.”
In 1993 Allen signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. Coach Marty Schottenheimer aggressively pursued him as a free agent and the Chiefs made the most substantial contract offer. Before he left Los Angeles, Allen married Kathryn in the backyard of Simpson’s Brentwood mansion. Allen went to Kansas City and had fun playing football again. Though he did not start for the first eight games, Allen was contributing to the team along with the Chiefs other big import, Joe Montana. One of his biggest moments was scoring his 100th career touchdown against the Raiders. After the game no one on Allen’s former team even shook his hand. Allen started the last eight games of the regular season and led the Chiefs to the AFC Conference Championship, where Kansas City lost to the Buffalo Bills. Allen finished his ninth season as the Chiefs Most Valuable Player (MVP), earned another trip to the Pro Bowl after a six-year absence, and was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Allen recovered from the 1993 season and took a few months off to recuperate. He was in the Cayman Islands when he heard his friend’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, had been murdered. Further, his friend, O. J. Simpson, went on trial for the murder. Allen continued to support Simpson throughout the trial, and he and his wife even visited Simpson in jail. When the 1994 season opened, Allen was very distracted. There were rumors he was seen driving Simpson’s white Bronco on the night Nicole was murdered and that he had been having an affair with Nicole. But Allen became focused on football and helped lead the Chiefs to a perfect start. Despite the team’s success, Allen’s close relationship with Simpson continued to cause him grief. Assistant Prosecutor on the Simpson murder trial Christopher Darden came to Kansas City to interview Allen and asked him if he had an affair with Nicole. The rumor escalated after appearing in the National Enquirer and soon Allen was being scolded by the daytime talk shows. His house was invaded by journalists, some posing as repairman and other delivering flowers. On the football field Allen injured his knee and was forced to sit out three games. He roared back from injury and led the Chiefs to two straight victories at the end of the season, including a 132-yard performance against the Raiders.
As the 1995 season started, Allen had to adjust to a new role on the field. Allen platooned with Greg Hill, but the two reluctant running backs combined to become a formidable tandem. Despite the continuing saga of the Simpson criminal and civil trials, Allen focused on football. During the game against the Raiders, Allen gained 124 yards and became the first player to gain 10,000 yards rushing and 5,000 yards receiving. The Chiefs finished the season 13-3 and Allen gained 890 yards. During the wild card game the week before the Chiefs would begin their playoff campaign, Allen joined ABC in the broadcast booth analyzing games. It was during this time that the football player began to think about television as an option after his playing days were over. The following week the Chiefs lost their first playoff game to the underdog Indianapolis Colts, and the season was over. In 1996 the Chiefs were again favored to win the division and go to the AFC Championship, but the team finished 9-7 and did not make the play-offs. During a nationally televised game against the Detroit Lions, Allen broke the career rushing touchdown record of 110 with numbers 111 and 112. Allen finished his career as a football player after the 1997 season at the age of 38. He set career records in rushing touchdowns (123) and in career receptions for a running back (587). He signed a $1 million contract with CBS Sports to become part of its broadcast team for its professional football coverage. Allen also threw his hat into the publication ring co-writing Marcus: The Autobiography of Marcus Allen.
In his 16 seasons Allen amassed 12,243 yards and totaled 145 touchdowns, including one Super Bowl MVP and one regular season MVP Award. Furthermore, he achieved all this success buried so far down in Al Davis’s doghouse that he averaged fewer than five carries a game for three seasons. But setting records was not the reason that he played football. Allen told the Capitol-Journal’s Rick Dean at his retirement press conference: “The records I’m proud of, but it’s the people I’ve worked with on a day-to-day basis who really made the game for me. The most important thing has always been the journey and the people you meet and gain respect for in the common struggle to achieve something.”
Allen, Marcus and Stowers, Carlton. Marcus: The Autobiography of Marcus Allen St. Martin’s Press, New York: 1997.
Sport, October 1994, p. 40.
Sports Illustrated, April 10, 1998, p. 22.
USA Today, April 10, 1998.
Kansas City Capitol-Journal Website at: http://cjonline.com/stories/041298/spo_marcus.shtml. ESPN Sportszone Website at: http://espn.sportszone.com/nfl/profiles/bio/0174.html. Kansas City Chiefs Website at: http://www.nfl.com/Chiefs/news/0409comments.html.
—Michael J. Watkins
American football player
Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen came to be admired for his intelligence and quiet determination as much as for his skill in gaining yardage. An all-around athlete with a winning smile and boyish charm, Allen's appearance concealed a mature team player. As a senior at the University of Southern California (USC), he was a first-round draft pick, taken by the Raiders under the shadow of that team's move from Oakland to Los Angeles, California. In 1984 Allen was named the most valuable player of Super Bowl XVIII. A Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee, he has been quoted, "There is absolutely nothing that compares with winning."
Born in San Diego, California, on March 16, 1960, Marcus LaMarr Allen is the second of six siblings, the children of Gwen, a licensed vocational nurse, and Harold "Red" Allen, a construction foreman. As a child Allen played little league along with his four brothers. Later, at San Diego's Lincoln High School from 1975-78, he lettered in baseball, basketball, track, and football. He was named to the all-city and all-league football teams and remained strong in academics. Although he played quarterback in high school, he preferred to play running back and opted to attend the University of Southern California (USC) because of the school's history of Heisman Trophy winning running backs.
After some special team experience as a freshman at USC, Allen spent his sophomore year playing fullback. The switch happened early in the season when tailback Charles White injured a shoulder during the first game, and Allen filled in as the sole fullback offense. He logged more than 100 yards rushing during that first game and spent the rest of the 1979 season at fullback, blocking for White, who won the Heisman Trophy easily that year. The Trojans went 10-0-1 and beat Ohio State University at the Rose Bowl, 17-16. Allen contributed a total of 649 yards rushing, 314 yards in receptions caught, and eight touchdowns scored that season.
For the 1980 season Allen moved into the starting tailback position. It was a demanding position to play and an eye-opening experience. As tailback he was preceded in the job by such USC legends as O.J. Simpson . Allen performed admirably, racking up 1,563 yards that season.
With the Trojans ranked at Number 1, Allen set a personal goal of rushing for 2000 yards during his senior year; it was an unprecedented benchmark. After logging 210 yards in the season opener against Tennessee, he rushed for 274 yards against Indiana the following week. In the third game, a win against the Sooners of Oklahoma, Allen made 208 yards on 39 carries. He made 233 yards against Oregon the following week a the Trojans triumphed 56-22.
The crushing blow of a mid-season loss to the University of Arizona was softened for Allen by the satisfaction of rushing for 211 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown run. Two low-yardage games of 153 and 143 against Stanford and Notre Dame respectively were cause for celebration regardless, as USC won both games. He rushed for 289 and 243 yards against Washington State and the University of California at Berkeley respectively and faced his last two regular season games with a running total of 1,968 yards.
In a freezing rain at Washington that season, he surpassed the 2000-yard rushing mark. He ended his college career with 2,342 yards and won the Heisman Trophy that year.
Allen went to Al Davis 's Raiders in the first round of the 1982 National Football League (NFL) draft. With a whirlwind of agents offering contracts, Allen hired attorney/agent Ed Hookstratten who negotiated a $150,000 contract for Allen's first year, plus a $400,000 signing bonus.
Hookstratten arranged also for Allen to train with Olympic track and field coach Jim Bush, who also trained record-breaking Olympic sprinter Quincy Watts during his 20-year career at the University of California. The training program with Bush helped Allen to improve his endurance and strength as he entered his rookie year with the NFL. One week prior to the season opener against San Francisco Allen moved into the starting lineup. In that game he gained more than 100 yards rushing. A second game against Atlanta was followed by an eight-week (57-day) players' strike, the longest in NFL history.
|1960||Born in San Diego, California|
|1978-82||Plays for the Trojans of USC|
|1982||Drafted by the soon-to-be Los Angeles Raiders; participates in NFL players' strike|
|1984||Sets a Super Bowl record of 191 yards on 20 carries, Super Bowl XVIII; relocates to Oakland with the Raiders|
|1987||Participates in second NFL players' strike|
|1988||Leads the league in rushing for the seventh time|
|1993||Marries Kathryn Eickstaedt; signs with the Kansas City Chiefs; goes to the playoffs with Kansas City|
|1997||Retires from professional play after 221 games played, with 145 career touchdowns, 123 rushing touchdowns, 587 pass receptions, 12,243 career rushing yards, and six Pro Bowls.|
|1998||Joins the CBS Sports Broadcasting team|
The Raiders returned from the strike with a win in a Monday-night home game against the San Diego Chargers. When the shortened season had ended, Allen had rushed for 697 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 401 receptions that season included three touchdowns. At the Tampa Bay stadium for Super Bowl XVIII in 1984, Allen broke loose for a 74-yard touchdown run after the Raiders took possession of the ball on their own 26-yard line in the last 12 seconds of the third quarter. The score by Allen turned the tide for the Raiders, and the team won the Super Bowl for the third time in franchise history. He wrote of the experience later, "There are those moments in life that simply defy proper explanation, so magical that they beg a poet's talent for description. They pass all too soon, a blur in time so quickly gone that there is not ample opportunity to fully appreciate them as they occur. Such a moment for me began when [Jim] Plunkett called the play."
During the 1985 season, Allen injured his ankle at the home opener against the New York Giants. It was the team's third game—and their third straight loss. The injury—although nothing appeared broken—plagued Allen for some time. Although he was named to the Pro Bowl that year, the doctors refused to release him to play, and his stats sagged in 1986.
After a lackluster 1987 season, and another player's strike delay, Allen led the Raiders on the rebound in 1988, for the seventh time in his career. He re-signed with the Raiders in 1989 but played only sporadically through 1991. The 1992 football season marked Allen's eleventh and last with the Raiders. He signed with Kansas City and played out his career with the Chiefs until retiring from professional play in 1997.
When he retired after 221 games played, Allen had logged 145 career touchdowns including 123 rushing touchdowns. His NFL record of 11 consecutive games with 100 or more rushing yards stood from 1986 until 1997. Third in pass receptions, with 587, and seventh on the all-time rushing list with 12,243 career yards, he was a six-time Pro Bowler. His 1985 single season mark of 2,314 combined rushing and receiving yards is the third-highest in the NFL.
Allen, who married Kathryn Eickenstadt on June 26, 1993, lives in Montecito, California. In retirement he works as a sports analyst for the CBS television network's NFL broadcast team.
Address: c/o CBS Sportsline.com, 2200 West Cypress Creek Road, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309. Fax: (954) 351-8823. Phone: (954) 351-2120.
|KAN: Kansas City Chiefs; RAI: Los Angeles Raiders.|
Awards and Accomplishments
|1981||Heisman Trophy; College Player of the Year: Walter Camp, Maxwell Club, and Football News|
|1982||Rookie of the Year; Pro-Bowl|
|1984||Most Valuable Player, Super Bowl XVIII|
|1993||NFL Comeback Player of the Year|
|2000||College Football Hall of Fame|
SELECTED WRITINGS BY ALLEN:
(With Carlton Stowers) Marcus, St. Martin's Press, 1997.
Allen, Marcus with Carlton Stowers, Marcus, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.
Leder, Jane Mersky, Marcus Allen, Mankato, MN: Crestwood House Inc., 1985.
"CBS Sportsline.com," http://cbs.sportsline.com/u/cbs/mallen.html (December 26, 2002).
"Jim Bush, Physical Fitness Consultant," USTCA Coaches Diploma Program, http://www.ustrackcoaches.org/HURDLES/Courses/jim_bush_resume.htm (December 18, 2002).
Sketch by G. Cooksey