Special to Sports News Highlights

There are certain players you remember growing up for various reasons.  Some because of the impact they had on the game; others you remember because he/she played for the team you love.  And some made an impact on you because of what that athlete did to YOUR team.

Every fan of a team in the NFL’s NFC East knows what I’m referring to after news broke of the passing of former Cowboys offensive lineman Larry Allen.

Allen was a beast.  He was a 6-3, 335-poud monster who dominated the line of scrimmage. As a guard, his quick feet were mesmerizing and his strength was legendary (reports were he benched 700-pounds). No one at his position was better at pulling and no one reached the “second level” of the defense like Allen.

He was an 11-time Pro Bowler and seven time All-Pro.  He helped Dallas win a Super Bowl in 1995 and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1990s and 2000s.  He was also considered among the top 100 all-time players and was quickly inducted into Pro Football’s Hall of Fame in 2013, six years after he retired. 

His story is inspiring.  He led a challenging life as a kid growing up in Compton, Calif., before attending Butte College in Oroville, Calif., then transferring and starring at Sonoma State.

The Cowboys used their second-round pick, the 46th overall, to take Allen in the 1994 draft.  He is one of five Hall of Famers from that draft class and three of those men were drafted in the second round: Isaac Bruce, Kevin Mawae and Allen. 

While Allen anchored the offensive line in Dallas for 12 years, the Cowboys won 98 games and made the playoffs six times, winning the Super Bowl in 1995.

Teaming with Nate Newton as the other guard, that tandem just might be the best guard-duo in NFL history, along with Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews with the Houston Oilers.

Too many times in football, we focus on the “skill” positions of quarterback, running back, wide receiver and cornerbacks, but Allen and others who were stellar offensive lineman, proved that being big and heavy doesn’t mean you don’t possess skill.

Ask any player who was in the huddle with Allen and anyone who played against him, and they will tell you he was as skilled as any player on the football field.

He’ll be remembered along with names like John Hannah, Gene Upshaw, Randall McDaniel, Joe DeLamielleure, Bruce Matthews, Steve Hutchison and Russ Grimm as the best to ever play inside with their hands in the dirt, but Allen will be missed even more by his family, the Cowboys, and those die-heard football fans who watch and admired more than the guys who play with the football in their hands.

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