Marcus Allen's Enshrinement Speech Transcript
Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium
August 3, 2003
Harold "Red" Allen
Thank you Chris, and good evening. First I want to thank God for he indeed set this day in motion many years ago. And, today is the end result, and I indeed give God praise.
I'd like to thank the Hall of Fame committee for being so kind to the Allen family, and it's great to see all the old-timers come back for the 40th anniversary. I congratulate the new members of the Hall of Fame.
Ladies and gentleman, this indeed is an honor and a pleasure to present a young man that God blessed me to be his father, and to be there for him in his growing up. Considering my father died when I was nine years old, I made a sincere effort to be the best father I could be for my children. Along with my wife's sharing this goal, Gwen and I put our best foot forward, and took the initiative to get involved in every aspect of our children's lives. It was a goal to provide a loving environment for our family.
I am a carpenter by profession. To become a successful builder, there are certain qualities you have to practice. Those same qualities I instilled in my kids - hard work, teamwork, and work ethic are needed to accomplish one's goals. I can proudly say, Marcus began to exhibit these abilities at a very young age. I took my sons to work with me and gave them an option of hammering nails all day long for a living or go to college. They chose college.
We reared our children to have faith in God, to know the importance of education, and make good choices and wise decisions through life's journey. Over the years, we often went camping, fishing, and hunting which I really enjoy. Now, we spend time on the golf course together. I developed a strong father and son relationship with Marcus. We both shared a great sense of humor together. It's nothing for him to call home and wake me up any time of night and tell me a joke or two.
Most of all, I cherish the time I spent with my son. Marcus, I pray that you will continue your faith in God, your love for family, your service to mankind. And, I stand here today as a proud father, and a good friend to honor the man you are today.
Ladies and gentleman, my son Marcus Allen.
Thank you very, very much. Words do not measure the profound feeling I have at this moment that my father presented me. He vowed to be the father that he didn't have. He's been that and more. That's why it was so important for me to have my dad up here. Elvin Bethea, we talked. Unfortunately his parents weren't able to be a part of this, and I think they realize the importance to me to have my parents, and let the world know that they were great people, they are great people. That they cared for me, they loved me, and they nourished me and brought me this far and the reason that I am here is because of them. Thank you.
The genesis of my football life began many years ago with the inspiration of many of these gentlemen behind me. At 10 years old, I donned on the pads and I played for a pee wee team called the Lions. And I thought the player that inspired me the most because I was a cornerback was Lem Barney. My brothers can attest to this as well. We watched a game - the Cleveland Browns when Leroy Kelly had displayed some incredible moves in the mud. And like my brothers and I would always do, what we saw on television, we'd try to emulate at home. So, we went out in the backyard. We didn't have a lot of grass but we had a lot of dirt, and we watered down the backyard. And, as a result of that, I learned how to play in the mud and never had any trepidation about bad weather.
I see my high school coach over here to my left - Vic Player and Roy Reed. Thank you for your authority, thank you for your guidance, and thank you for your wisdom to move me to quarterback where USC got a glimpse of my running ability. I'm forever grateful. Thanks Vic and thanks Roy.
And, to (USC coach) John Robinson, my favorite coach, the greatest teacher-psychologist-motivator that ever came across, thank you for moving me from defensive back to running back and giving me this wonderful opportunity, because I would not be here and I'm forever thankful to you as well.
And John Jackson who was my position coach at USC who made me a running back in one total year. Well, actually, let me back up for one second. John Jackson put me at fullback. And, the first day of practice, I broke my nose, and he didn't let me out of practice for one second. And, he pushed and he pushed me and he pushed me. And, a year later, I was the tailback. And, then my senior year - because of John's work and his pushing, I was the first back to gain 2,000 yards in college. Thank you. I remember vividly the moment when John and I were in New York at the Downtown Athletic Club when they announced that I won the Heisman Trophy, and I saw a tear running down his eye. John, thank you so much.
To the Los Angeles Raiders, I'd like to thank Mr. Al Davis for drafting me. Mr. Ron Wolf, and Coach Tom Flores for putting his faith and trust in a rookie. Tom, I appreciate everything you did for me. And, to my position coach - Ray Willsey. Some assistant coaches never get a lot of credit but thanks to Ray Willsey. He liberated me. He understood the power of words. My rookie season, and I am sure most football players assume that professional coaches know more than the college coaches so they're always willing to do exactly what they say, to please them, to endear ourselves to the coaching staff. Well, Ray Willsey never once told me 'don't.' He never once said 'don't run like this, don't run like that, don't catch like this, or don't catch like that.' Ray Willsey said to me, 'Make sure,' he says, 'Marcus, make sure you get the first down. Make sure you know the down and distance.' And, that liberated me to be the expressive back that I was. And Ray, I see you back there in your shades. I never told you that, but thank you very much.
To Terry Robiske, who's now coaching with the Cleveland Browns. It's no secret I had some difficult times with the Raiders but if it wasn't for Terry Robiske, his humor and his friendship and a person who taught me more about football than just about anybody - thanks Terry. I see your kids there, but I don't see you but thank you, you know I love you.
To the Kansas City Chiefs, and Mr. Lamar Hunt, one of the kindest, most generous, most thoughtful man I ever met in my entire life. Thank you so much for allowing me to play for the Kansas City Chiefs. Carl Peterson, thank you. Marty Schottenheimer, thank you.
I love football. It's my DNA. Thank you for giving me the shot in the arm that I needed at that time in my life. I appreciate it. And to Jimmy Raye, another coach who's coaching with the New York Jets, who coached me at Kansas City. Thank you for being a friend as well and a great confidant. I learned a great deal from you on and off the field.
There's some friends out here, I'd like to thank. They were with me since the very, very beginning. Mike Orstein. Thanks Mike - take a stand buddy. And, my friend Jack Snyder who's been a dear, dear friend to me. I don't know where you are Jack, but you know I love you. Thank you very much.
And, a couple of years ago, guys, I was here and a young man was at the podium, and he paid me the greatest compliment. He said I was a warrior. And, in football circles that is the thing to be known as. And I was sitting down there and he was standing up here and now I stand up here and he's sitting back there. He's a warrior and ultimately he's my best friend. And, I'm very, very fortunate to rub shoulders with a guy who I admire. When I think about it, he was my roommate in college; I've been knowing him a long, long time. I'm talking about Ronnie Lott. He is the one player that has more influence over me than anybody I've ever met and he's truly a blessing in my life.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a couple of trainers out there who kept me on the field. I played 16 years and for a running back, that's an aberration. It doesn't happen very often. So, George Anderson, Rod Martin, Todd Sperber with the Raiders, Jack Ward at USC, to Dave Kindall, Bud Epps - thank you so much. Thanks for your caring, your support.
And have some teammates out there that I see. I don't know all of the players that are out there. But I see Rod Martin out there as well. Rod, that's my guy. USC baby. Big Otis McKinney, Frank Hawkins, Mike Davis I just saw walk up. A few of my Raiders teammates, few of my Kansas City teammates. Tony Richardson, Tony Gonzalez. I see Rod Barksdale out there.
No great deed is done alone guys. And, through your contributions, I'm up here. And, I thank you for all that from the bottom of my heart. I'm very, very sincere about that.
And, everyone has talked about the greatest teams they had. Yes, my great team has been my family. My mother and father - every single step of the way. They had six kids. My mother's been my team mother. My dad has been my little league coach, my football coach, he picks up me, he picks up my brothers from different practices. He goes from one place to another. He works from 7 to 3, get up, coaches - he's done it all. And, I would not be here if it wasn't for my parents. And, again I'm very, very thankful for that because, I want to tell you that while you're here.
To my great teammates - my brother Harold, who's my hero. My brother Damon - congratulations to him. He just passed 60,000 yards passing in the CFL and he's going to the Hall of Fame. That's another reason for my parents to be proud. Michael, I love you. Michelle, I love you, too. Darius, you know how I feel about you. I love you. Every inch, every yard, every hit, every hurt, every pain, every run I did because of you guys.
There's so many more people out there I want to thank, but because of time, I'm not allowed to. But, they're all my friends. For all those who supported me. All my friends at CBS. To "Dr. J." - Julius Erving - he's been an inspiration to me for a long, long time. Thank you.
From the bottom of my heart, I was so privileged and lucky to play this incredible game with so many incredible people. Thank you very much.