Allen graces Governor’s Dinner | NevadaAppeal.com

Allen graces Governor’s Dinner

Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn, left, shakes hands with former Heisman Trophy winner and Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen before the 37th Annual Governor's Dinner at the Governor's Mansion in Carson City, Nev., on Friday, July 8, 2005. The proceeds from the dinner benefit the Nevada Wolf Pack athletic program AP Photo Brad Horn/Nevada Appeal

Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen admitted he didn’t know much about the University of Nevada when he accepted the offer to be guest speaker at Friday’s 37th annual Governor’s Dinner.

“I know they have a great basketball team,” Allen told a small group of media before the annual event which saw ex-Nevada president Joseph Crowley win the Jake Lawlor Award for his past support of intercollegiate athletics. “Frank Hawkins (ex-Raider teammate and former Nevada star) was a great rusher. As I look back, if I had to go to war, or be in a fight, I’m completely confident that I’d want Frank Hawkins by my side.”

And, there wasn’t an NFL team that didn’t feel the same way about Allen, who was drafted 10th overall in the 1982 draft by the Raiders after winning a Heisman Trophy with the USC Trojans where he became the first runner to rush for more than 2,000 yards.

Allen spent 16 years in the NFL, which is about three times the normal life span for a running back. He performed with grace and style at all times. He rushed for 12,243 yards, finished with 5,411 yards receiving and scored 123 touchdowns.

“I always thought I would play 10 years,” Allen said. “I always thought that would be a great career for an athlete. After the 10th year, I still felt good and decided to play an 11th season.

“I took a lot of pride in that; playing more games at that position than anybody in the game. I was a free agent at 33, and I still felt I had big games ahead of me. Even at 37, I had what it took to play at a high level.”

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When asked to pick a defining moment in his career, Allen didn’t flinch.

Allen harkened back to the 1983 Super Bowl when the Raiders crushed the Washington Redskins 38-9. Allen rushed 20 times for 191 yards and two scores, including an electrifying 74-yard scoring run, which saw him change directions more than once.

“There were hundreds of millions (watching on TV),” Allen said. “It was the biggest game. To have the longest run in Super Bowl history and to win like we did. That jumps out at you more than anything.”

Allen made special note of two other moments in his career – his first TD which was a 5-yard run off the left side against the 49ers and when he retired.

There were many that believed he should have retired as a Raider. However, a rift developed between Allen and owner Al Davis, and the duo never patched things up. It’s why Allen retired as a Chief and not a Raider. The dispute revolved around Davis’ decision to bring in Bo Jackson, which relegated Allen to a lesser role for several years. The two parted ways after the 1992 season.

“I was always fond of the players there,” Allen said. “Timmy Brown is one of my all-time favorite people. He’s going to re-sign with the Raiders and then retire, and hopefully I’ll be there to support him.”

He played his final five seasons with the Chiefs, scoring 47 touchdowns in six seasons. His best years in KC were in 1995 and 96 when he gained 890 and 830 yards, respectively, on the ground.

When he walked a way for the final time, he found that he didn’t miss the game as much as he thought. Part of that is because he landed a sideline reporter job with CBS.

“I always missed playing, but I never missed practices,” Allen said. “I didn’t miss the Sundays like I thought I would. I felt the electricity in the stadium, but I wasn’t interested in going out there and playing anymore.”

Allen enjoys his job with CBS. He still gets to be part of the game, and he continues friendships around the league, both with players and coaches.

“I see myself as a fluff interview,” Allen said. “I always tell people at CBS that if they want a negative story to go get somebody else. I like to do stories that show guys in a positive light; show that they are more than just a great athlete.”