Note: Below is my story from the morning 12 years ago that Marcus Allen was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They contain words of advice from the principal at San Diego's Lincoln High, Allen's alma mater, on what is expected of high-profile alums such as himself and Terrell Davis. They are words Marshawn Lynch needs to hear on how his recent actions represent his school and hometown.
From the third to last graph: "I've told Marcus, Terrell and Akili Smith, 'I will never ask you for anything because it's got to be something you want to do,' " said Lincoln principal Wendell Bass said. "But I tell them what they do owe us is to be a gentleman and to be articulate when they're on TV. And to always let people know you're from Lincoln."
By Tom Shanahan, San Diego Union-Tribune
January 24, 2003 -- Marcus Allen drove his black Ferrari onto Lincoln High's campus one off season day in the 1980s, a time when he was at the peak of his NFL powers as a Raiders running back.
Allen planned a quiet visit with old coaches and teachers such as Vic Player and Louise Pearson. In the administration office he greeted longtime financial secretary Pauline Perry with a peck on the cheek, and she announced she never would wash that side of her face again.
But it didn’t take long for word of Allen’s presence to spread quickly among students.
When the lunch bell ran, a mob scene of rock-star intensity ensued in the quad, an area at the center of campus.
"Marcus talked to the kids and signed autographs," said Lincoln principal Wendell Bass, the school's athletic director at the time. "But finally I had to tell him, 'Marcus, thank you very much, but will you please leave? We have to get these kids back to class.'
"Vanessa Williams had been on campus about a week earlier, and that was nothing compared to how the kids responded to Marcus."
'Brick' the first brick
San Diego has long been known as a hotbed for football players. In all, 181 San Diegans have played in the NFL or its earlier incarnations, starting in 1926 with San Diego High alum Harold "Brick" Muller, who played for the Los Angeles Buccaneers of the American Professional Football Conference.
Recent San Diegans to make an impact professionally include Terrell Davis, another Lincoln High alum who led the league in rushing in 1998; and Patrick Henry's Ricky Williams, who this season became San Diego's third NFL rushing champ while playing for the Miami Dolphins.
But none of San Diego's luminaries has had Allen's impact in terms of productivity, longevity and recognition. Allen led the league in rushing in 1985, just one highlight of a 16-year career that included 11 seasons with the L.A. Raiders (1982-92) and five with the Kansas City Chiefs (1993-97).
That recognition factor should be heightened further today with the announcement of this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame vote. Allen is expected to be named to the Class of 2003 in his first year of eligibility.
Allen, 42, will be the first graduate of a San Diego high school in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He joins sports icons Ted Williams, San Diego's first baseball Hall of Famer, and Bill Walton, San Diego's first basketball Hall of Famer.
"I'm not there yet," Allen said recently of the vote. "But I realize there is a rich tradition of athletes coming out of San Diego, Ted Williams to begin with."
"If you go down to the (San Diego) Hall of Champions and look at all the great athletes who have graced the grounds of San Diego, it's pretty impressive. It's unfortunate Terrell's career was cut short by injuries. Junior Seau (Oceanside) is another one who will be in the Hall of Fame."
The three NFL MVPs from San Diego are Allen (1985), Davis (1998) and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Sipe (1980), who played at Grossmont High, Grossmont College and San Diego State.
Allen is the only player to possess a Heisman Trophy, an NFL MVP and a Super Bowl MVP. He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and wears a Super Bowl XVIII ring. He was the 10th pick of the 1982 draft out of USC by the Raiders.
But Allen first made his mark at Lincoln High, which is tied for second in the nation with 24 alums who have played in the NFL. According to numbers tracked by Seattle Seahawks official Gary Wright for the NFL, Long Beach Poly is first with 41. Next is the tie between Lincoln, Compton High near Los Angeles and Canton McKinley in Ohio.
"When I was growing up, guys like Art Powell (San Diego High), Wally Henry (Lincoln) and David Lewis (Lincoln) were the ones who inspired me," Allen said of the NFL veterans. "I was also a San Diego Chargers fan who watched John Hadl and Lance Alworth. My dad (Red Allen) knew Paul Lowe, and I met Mike Garrett as a little kid. A lot of little things like the players from San Diego and the Chargers influenced me.
"Today kids are so much more advanced as far as when they start working out for what they want to achieve, but if my career gives them hope, then I'm glad that's the case."
Run, catch, block
There are so many places to start when highlighting Allen's NFL career. In addition to the awards, at the time of his retirement he had the NFL career records for rushing touchdowns (123), receptions by a running back (587) and games played by a running back (222).
He was second in career touchdowns (145), second in career rushing attempts (3,022), third in career combined yards (17,648) and sixth in career rushing yards (12,243).
But what Allen is most proud of was his all-around game. He could run, catch and block.
"The thing that never gets complete credit is being able to play every facet of the game with or without the ball," Allen said. "That could be running, blocking or running a pass route."
Former Chargers linebacker Billy Ray Smith faced Allen twice a season as an AFC West rival for 10 seasons.
"The guy was the best I ever played against," Smith said. "I mean John Elway and all the other quarterbacks – everybody. He wasn't a big guy, but he could pick up the blitz and get in your face. He could stop on a dime and had a real patience for following his blocking."
"You couldn't tell what they were going to do by personnel groupings because he could stay in to protect the quarterback. You didn't know if he was going to run, catch or block. You hoped he would block, but you couldn't tell."
Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer, who faced Allen in his Raiders years before coaching him with the Chiefs, called Allen the best short-yardage and goal-line situation runner he has ever seen.
"We used to chuckle in Kansas City that everybody knew the ball was going to Marcus, they knew how we were going to block the play, and yet Marcus would still find a way to score," Schottenheimer said. "He is one of the few players I consider a complete back. He was not only an outstanding runner, he was an equally adept blocker. Plus, Marcus had a few throws in his career."
On option passes, Allen completed 12-of-27 for 282 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions for a career passer rating of 122.2.
Allen says he didn't realize it at the time, but numerous position switches in high school and college helped him evolve into an all-around NFL back.
As a sophomore at USC, he was Charles White's blocking back when White won the 1979 Heisman.
"I wasn't big for a fullback, but I knew right away at SC if you wanted to be the best, you had to go against the best," Allen said. "In practice, I would skip guys in line if I didn't think they'd challenge me so that I could go against guys like Chip Banks."
At Lincoln, he was a strong safety as a sophomore and junior and a quarterback and free safety as a senior. As a junior, he was credited with 30 tackles against Madison before writers covering the game lost track of his total.
But his legend became cemented in San Diego prep lore his senior year in the 1977 CIFSan Diego Section championship. It's otherwise called "The Marcus Allen Game" to anyone who knows his San Diego high school football history.
Allen scored five touchdowns – on runs of 30, 85, 20 and 10 yards and an interception return of 60 yards – in a 34-6 victory over Kearny before 12,205 at then-San Diego Stadium. Allen finished with 197 yards on nine carries.
Former Lincoln coach Vic Player, who is still a teacher at the school, said he moved Allen to quarterback his senior year "because you always put your best player at quarterback."
But Allen balked at the move, and an impasse arose between player and coach until Allen's father backed the coach.
"Marcus had looked around the NFL, and he didn't see a whole lot of brothers playing quarterback," Player said. "He didn't even want to play running back. He wanted to play safety. He wanted to knock people out."
Player said Allen tried to demote himself in the first practices.
"He was fumbling the snap, calling the wrong plays and overthrowing guys," Player said. "I finally told him, 'You're out of here.'
"He went home and told his dad, but his dad told him, 'That's between him and you, and go do your homework.' Marcus came back the next day with his hat in hand and went to work."
Making a name
Bass says Allen has talked to Lincoln students about the value of education, either informally or at a formal school assembly. He has bought shoes and equipment for athletes.
In 1986, he helped pay the way for Lincoln's football team for a game in Seattle.
"I've told Marcus, Terrell and Akili Smith, 'I will never ask you for anything because it's got to be something you want to do,' " Bass said. "But I tell them what they do owe us is to be a gentleman and to be articulate when they're on TV. And to always let people know you're from Lincoln."
Allen, of course, has been identified as from San Diego's Lincoln High since his USC days and throughout his NFL career.
"Marcus kind of chuckled, looked at me and said, 'I think I took care of that.'
San Diego's Junior Seau of Oceanside High may be named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility when the 2015 class is announced this weekend in Arizona. Marcus Allen was named to the Hall his first year of eligibility in 2003. The Hall names its new class before Super Bowl each year, but for Allen the the moment came with the added bonus of taking place in his hometown. Allen was named 12 years ago to the Class of 2003. Super Bowl XXXVII was played in San Diego when Tampa Bay defeated the Oakland that year 48-21.