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Scorecard
April 20, 1998
Marcus Allen Retires Unappreciated Raider
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April 20, 1998

Scorecard

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FALLING BEHIND IN BOSTON

YEAR

TOP FIVE OVERALL

TOP FIVE U.S.

'83

2:09:53

2:09:53

'84

2:14:00

2:16:00

'85

2:19:00

2:21:00

'86

2:11:00

2:15:00

'87

2:12:00

2:16:00

'88

2:09:00

2:20:00

'89

2:11:00

2:22:00

'90

2:10:00

2:17:00

'91

2:11:00

2:15:00

'92

2:10:00

2:19:00

'93

2:10:00

2:18:00

'94

2:07:52

2:13:00

'95

2:10:00

2:23:45

'96

2:09:30

2:22:00

'97

2:10:30

2:22:30

Marcus Allen Retires
Unappreciated Raider

As Bizarre as it may sound, many football fans—especially Los Angeles-Oakland Raiders fans—will look back on the Hall of Fame career of running back Marcus Allen with a tinge of regret. For those fans, Allen, who last Thursday announced his retirement after 16 seasons in which he ran for 12,243 yards, scored 145 touchdowns and won Super Bowl and regular-season MVP awards, will forever be remembered for what might have been.

For reasons that aren't totally clear, Allen spent much of his 11-year tenure with the Raiders as the chief inhabitant of owner Al Davis's doghouse. Before he escaped to the Kansas City Chiefs, in 1993, he was benched at unfathomable times, berated at other times and forced to stand by as a parade of runners were brought in to supplant him. Some of those closest to Allen believe that Davis had it in for Allen from the start, that Allen, who joined the Raiders for their first season at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the stadium in which he had won the Heisman Trophy while starring for Southern Cal, was regarded by Davis as a glitzy Hollywood headliner who became bigger than the team—and, by extension, bigger than the owner.

If that was Davis's reasoning, it was a pathetic misconception, for the two qualities that elevated Allen to hallowed status among teammates were his toughness and unselfishness. "I go back to that quote from President Kennedy, 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,' " says Ronnie Lott, another future Hall of Famer, who played with Allen at USC and on the Raiders. "Replace the word country with the word team, and that's Marcus Allen."

Allen was a graceful runner with exceptional vision, balance and cutback ability. His highlight will always be his 74-yard touchdown run in the Raiders' Super Bowl XVIII victory over the Washington Redskins, a play that featured a balletic 360-degree spin. But the essence of Allen was his signature one-yard spurt when no hole existed. One of the best short-yardage and goal line runners in NFL history, the 210-pound Allen had a passion for dirty work that extended to his nasty blocking. The Raiders' roster has included hard men like Jack Tatum, Ted Hendricks, Otis Sistrunk and John Matuszak, but another Raider of that caliber, retired defensive end Howie Long, calls Allen "the toughest man I've ever been around."

Says Lott, "The qualities he embodied are really what the Raiders were all about. He wore those slogans—Just win, baby, Commitment to excellence—as well as any Raider ever has."

Sadly, this seemed to be visible to everyone but Davis.
Michael Silver

NBA's Woman Refs
Thumbs Up, But Not from Sam

With so many veteran NBA referees making unwanted news with the IRS (page 92), it's been a relief for the league that Dee Kantner and Violet Palmer have made so little news. Since Detroit Pistons center Brian Williams weighed in with his enlightened view on the hiring of the two female zebras ("This is just more '90s' bull—political correctness"), not much has been heard about Kantner and Palmer, the first distaff officials to work in a big league men's sport. For the league, that's just fine.

"They're as good as any rookies that have come along," says Los Angeles Lakers coach Del Harris. Portland Trail Blazers assistant Jimmy Eyen says the strength of the women has been their approachability ("They're not like most rookies, who are headstrong because they want to look in charge"), while Denver Nuggets guard Bryant Stith has been impressed with their grace under pressure. "They're forced to do a good job because they're under such a microscope," says Stith, "and they have."

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