As this week concludes, the nerves have to be getting sky high for players on the 49ers and Ravens as Sunday’s Super Bowl is quickly approaching.
But the same probably goes for the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame that will be announced Saturday evening. The Cowboys have three connections among the finalists in former coach Bill Parcells, defensive end Charles Haley and guard Larry Allen.
This is Allen’s first attempt and many believe the 11-time Pro Bowler will make it come Saturday night.
One person who isn’t so sure ... is Allen. The quiet and humble lineman doesn’t typically have much to say. And even though he’s on the verge of elite status, it didn’t turn him into a chatterbox.
But Allen did take the time to do a phone interview to discuss the Hall of Fame, his career and what’s going on in his life now.
So what is your excitement level right now, just a day before the announcement?
Allen: I’m a little nervous, but I’m excited. I’m just ready to get the day over with.
What would it mean for you to hear your name called as a first-ballot Hall of Famer?
Allen: I really don’t know. I know it’ll be special. I want it to happen, but I don’t know. I’m trying not to think a lot about it.
Down there in New Orleans, are you getting a good vibe about it? Are people telling you that you’re going to make it?
Allen: I’ve heard some of that. People are saying I’ll get it. But I don’t want to think about that until it happens. It’s hard to believe until it comes true.
Growing up near Los Angeles, did you ever dream of getting in this position?
Allen: No, not really. I really didn’t even know about (the Hall of Fame). I just saw people playing football and decided to try it. I didn’t really think like that, even when I was playing.
When you got to the point that you knew you’d be an offensive lineman, were there players you admired?
Allen: Yeah, definitely. Jackie Slater was playing for the Rams back then and I really loved his game. I saw him play a few times and loved the way he dominated people and used that head-butt. He was real physical. And then when I got to the Cowboys, my coach was Hudson Houck. He coached Jackie Slater with the Rams, so that was great for me to learn from a guy who helped him out.
Did you ever use that head-butt in a game?
Allen: Yeah, a couple times. It was illegal when I got to the league, but I had to use it sometimes.
How often do people ask you about bench pressing 700 pounds?
Allen: Yeah, I get that a lot. People like that. I didn’t really think it would be (so popular) to everyone, but it was pretty good. I remember my teammates being real excited about it. That was fun.
Did you ever attempt anything like that again?
Allen: No, that was just one time. I wanted to see if I could do it, but I didn’t really want to get hurt or anything.
And what can you bench today?
Allen: Hmm … not 700 (laughs).
Talk about what it was like to join a Cowboys team that had won two straight Super Bowls?
Allen: It was great. I was just in awe of everything when I first got there. My first couple of years, I just watched everything they did. They were so successful when I got there. I just tried to follow them in everything they did.
Your former teammate Nate Newton said the other day that you were one of the best linemen to ever play. What does that mean to you?
Allen: I looked up to Nate. He was great. I was a young kid who got to play with Mark Tuinei, Nate, Mark Stepnoski, Derek Kennard and Erik Williams. They’re all Pro Bowl players. For guys like Nate and those guys to say how great I was … that’s a great compliment to me.
What is your role with the current offensive line?
Allen: If I see something they’re not doing right, I’ll say something over to the side. They can take it if they want. If not, that’s fine (laughs). I just want them to be successful.
So what have you been up to these days besides occasionally helping out with the Cowboys?
Allen: I help coach at my son’s high school. He plays at De La Salle High School in Compton. He’s 16. He’s pretty good. He benched 315 the other day. He’s getting big.
Do you have a presenter in mind when that day happens?
Allen: Yeah, he knows. If I do make it, I’ll announce it then.