PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME

Bitterness aside for Allen


Published: Sunday, January 26, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 11:55 p.m.

SAN DIEGO - Marcus Allen has no hard feelings. Not now. Getting elected the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first try helped him forget some of his bitterness for the Raiders.

"Today's a great day, the greatest day of my athletic career," Allen said Saturday after he and four others were selected for the game's highest honor - on the day before his old team plays in the Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Joining the former Raiders running back in the Class of 2003 are defensive end Elvin Bethea, guard Joe DeLamielleure, wide receiver James Lofton and coach Hank Stram, who went in as a seniors candidate.

Allen's departure from the Raiders and owner Al Davis a decade ago was a messy affair, one he preferred not to discuss Saturday.

"I don't want to get into anything negative," he said. "This is the most positive day of my career. I wish the Raiders the best. I wish Mr. Davis the best in his quest of another championship."

Allen played a crucial role in the Raiders' last title, when he won the MVP award in the 1984 Super Bowl. He ran for 191 yards that day, including a spectacular 74-yard touchdown. In 1985, he won the league's MVP after rushing for 1,759 yards.

But a contract dispute with Davis, who called Allen "a cancer on the team," prompted him to leave for Kansas City. He spent four more productive seasons with the Chiefs before retiring after the 1997 season.

"I had a problem with one individual, which made my stay uncomfortable," Allen said of his years with the Raiders and Davis.

It was the start of a brilliant career. Allen became the first player in NFL history with 10,000 yards rushing and 5,000 receiving; he finished with 12,243 rushing and 5,411 receiving. He scored 145 touchdowns and was regarded as one of the game's best goal-line and short yardage runners.

Bethea played 16 seasons, all with the Houston Oilers. He made the Pro Bowl eight times and led the team in sacks six times, finishing his career with 105.

DeLamielleure played 13 seasons with Buffalo and Cleveland and was the lead blocker for Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson, who became the NFL's first 2,000-yard rusher in 1973.

Lofton played 16 seasons at wide receiver and had more than 50 catches in a season nine times. He was the first NFL player to score a touchdown in three different decades and finished his career with 764 catches for 14,004 yards and 75 touchdowns.

Stram coached for 17 seasons, starting with the AFL's Dallas Texans, who moved to Kansas City. He was with the franchise from 1960-74 and then coached in New Orleans for two more seasons. He led the Chiefs to two Super Bowls, losing the first one to Green Bay and then beating Minnesota after the 1969 season.

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