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On Top Of The Heap, As Always
Jill Lieber
September 01, 1986
Marcus Allen won the Heisman in college and MVP honors in the NFL. The Los Angeles Raiders' running back is, relentlessly, the best
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September 01, 1986

On Top Of The Heap, As Always

Marcus Allen won the Heisman in college and MVP honors in the NFL. The Los Angeles Raiders' running back is, relentlessly, the best

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Looking back, Allen says, "I thought, Who are these people, these so-called authorities who don't know me? My parents had brought me up to believe I could do anything I wanted to as long as I worked hard enough. Now somebody was telling me I couldn't do something, that I'd be average.

"There is too much emphasis on speed. I can't run a good 40 time, but under game circumstances, something happens to me that wouldn't under a clock."

Draft day devastated Allen. Not only was he the 10th player selected, but two other running backs—Stanford's Darrin Nelson and Arizona State's Gerald Riggs—were chosen ahead of him. What did the Raiders know that nobody else seemed to?

Flores and his staff were coaches at the now defunct Gold Bowl in San Diego. The Raiders, not a member of either NFL scouting combine, weren't about to get hung up on 40 times. They conducted their own tests. Workouts were restricted to receiving drills, and Allen caught everything thrown his way.

Flores had planned to use Allen for only six plays because he had a sore shoulder and was exhausted from shuttling around the country playing in bowl games and picking up awards.

"Marcus got in and wouldn't come out," Flores says. "He blocked, and he was the first guy to make the tackle on an interception. He didn't want to play less than what he felt the hometown fans expected. He has a tremendous amount of pride."

That pride has carried Allen beyond even his own expectations: 1982 NFL Rookie of the Year, Super Bowl XVIII MVP (a record 191 yards rushing), 1985 NFL MVP and three times a Pro Bowl selection. He has won every major award in pro and college football, more awards than anybody else. Ever.

"My whole game is attitude," Allen says. "You've got to think positively to achieve the impossible, to be what you expect to be. If you seek mediocrity, that's what you'll get out of life.

"I have a burning desire to be the best. If I don't make it, that's O.K. because I'm reaching for something so astronomically high. If you reach for the moon and miss, you'll still be among the stars."

Allen is part of the Hollywood galaxy. He knows everybody and is forever dropping names. Emma Samms, a star of the prime-time soap opera The Colbys, skips across Allen's TV screen in a Diet Coke commercial, a baby elephant in tow. "Emmmmaaaaa," he says as if she were sitting next to him. Dionne Warwick belts a song out of Testaroni's speakers. "Dionne's such a nice lady," he offers. One of his tennis partners is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Allen claims that Abdul-Jabbar calls him Blackenroe.

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