Domowitch to HOF selectors on DB Eric Allen --

By Paul Domowitch

Responsive image
Sep 23, 2001; Miami, FL, USA; FILE PHOTO; Miami Dolphins receiver James McKnight (80) in action against Oakland Raiders defensive back Eric Allen (21) at Pro Player Stadium. Credit: Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY NETWORK


Below are some comments from former NFL MVP Rich Gannon on cornerback Eric Allen. Their careers overlapped. Gannon played against Allen for more than a decade. They later were teammates with the Oakland Raiders for three years.

You all know how I feel about Eric. He belongs in the Hall of Fame. He was an integral part of those great Eagles GangGreen defenses of Buddy Ryan and Bud Carson back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

He’s tied for 21st in career interceptions with 54. Had five or more picks in a season six different times, including six with the Raiders in his next to last year in the league (2000), at the age of 35. He’s tied for eighth in career interception returns for touchdowns with eight.

He was a six-time Pro Bowler. A first- or second-team All Pro selection three times. A first-team All-Conference selection six times.

As I mentioned in an earlier letter of support for Eric, we put a lot of emphasis on whether a candidate made an All-Decade team. I understand why. But sometimes we have to consider the circumstances if they don’t.

Eric played 10 of his 14 seasons in the ‘90s. The four corners on the All-Decade team of the ‘90s were Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson, Darrell Green and Aeneas Williams. Sanders and Woodson were voted into the Hall of Fame by us in their first year of eligibility. Green made it in his second year and Williams in his fifth.

This is Eric’s 17th year on the modern-era ballot. All-Decade or no All-Decade, Eric Allen belongs in the Hall of Fame. I believe that and so does Gannon. He wanted me to share his thoughts about Eric with the selection committee:

“I played against Eric when he was with the Eagles. I played against him when he was with the Saints. And ultimately, he became my teammate with the Raiders for three years.

“I went against him in practice every day. I watched him cover Tim Brown and Jerry Rice in practice. We had Eric on one side and Charles Woodson on the other. So I have a pretty unique perspective on who he was and how good he was.

“When I work with quarterbacks, or even when I talk to defensive coordinators and coaches, I  bring up Eric a lot. Eric was really, really good – the best I’ve ever played against – at disguising his intentions. He would show you press when he was playing down. He would play off five yards, then come up and jam.

“We would say, don’t be the tell. Eric would never be that guy. He did a great job changing it up. From a quarterback perspective, it’s the last thing you want. I’m trying to deal with fronts and rotations and pressures and blitzes and down-and-distance and all of those different things. The last thing I want to do is look out there and see a corner who isn’t in a stationary position.

“He did a great job with his eyes. He read the eyes of the quarterback. His stop-and-start quickness was terrific. He was great playing the ball in the air. He was maybe 5-10. But he had tremendous leaping ability. He was ultra-competitive. A very good tackler. Showed up in run support. All the little things that you love.

“A quick story. I remember training camp in Napa. I remember Eric on the left side and Charles Woodson on the right. We had Tim Brown and Jerry Rice and we couldn’t complete a pass. I remember Gruden coming to me before one afternoon session and saying, OK, this is our best shot. Maybe those guys aren’t warmed up yet.

“At one point, I remember Gruden talking to both of them and saying, Hey, take it easy on these guys (Brown and Rice). Because, honestly, they were kicking the shit out of them. Eric was so competitive. He didn’t care that it was training camp. That was Jerry Rice on the other side of the line. And Tim Brown. He wasn’t a Raider when the ball was snapped.

“Eric was one of the smartest players I ever played against. You could talk to him during the week about Denver’s offense or Kansas City’s offense. Some defensive backs, particularly corners, it’s, Uh, I’m covering this guy. It’s either man or zone. That’s all they know. Not Eric. He understood formations. He understood personnel groupings. He understood splits. Like, if a guy was gonna split two yards inside the numbers, Eric was calling out crosser, crosser, crosser.

“He was a great communicator on the back end. He did a great job helping young safeties. He was outstanding at processing information quickly and efficiently and getting himself in position, getting others around him in position. He was the communication hub of the secondary. That’s not normally the case with a corner. That’s usually left to the safeties. But Eric always was communicating back there.

“He did all of the little things right. He was a big part of that transformation in Oakland. He got there in ’98. They were terrible. In ’99, we finished 8-8, but all of our losses were one-score losses. We easily could’ve been 10-6. The next year, we went 12-4. He was a big part of that.

“’He was one of my favorite teammates. Always laughing, always smiling, always upbeat, always positive. Ultra-competitive. He was the real deal.

His next to last year in the league, he had six interceptions, including three pick-sixes. I played against a lot of great players in my career. Without question, he’s in the top 5.

Other Recent Stories

Frank discussion on top QB prospects with Panthers head coach: Is it revealing?    With all eyes on the NFL Draft that begins April 27, Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich is On The Clock with the first pick in the 2023 player lottery. ... read the full story

Shh, listen: Hear the NFL's quarterback frenzy getting even crazier   The NFL's hyperactive quarterback scene was turbocharged the last two days at the Owners Meeting in Phoenix and elsewhere, not only by what was said, but by what ... read the full story

Pro Day tracker for top 2023 quarterbacks Despite reservations about the realistic value of Pro Day shows, dutifully tracks these hyped events for your edification. For our perspective ... read the full story

Pro Daze: NFL's annual traveling circus is less than advertised Updated March 30, 2023    Etiquette probably dictates that some subjects should be introduced by first saying, with all due respect.     So, there it is.     Now. ... read the full story

Top DT Jalen Carter pleas no contest, limits legal exposure Jalen Carter,'s top-rated defensive tackle in the 2023 draft, pleaded no contest Thursday to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing, ... read the full story

Latest Player Notes

Ohio State Mitchell Melton
Mar 09, 2023: Defensive lineman Mitchell Melton has been medically cleared to participate in individual drills for Ohio State during spring ... read full note

Texas Quinn Ewers
Mar 09, 2023: Every position is open for the Texas Longhorns this spring. Every player will earn his starting role. For that reason, Quinn ... read full note

Texas Tech Cade Briggs
Mar 09, 2023: Backup offensive lineman Cade Briggs, who played in two games last season, was removed from the Texas Tech roster on Tuesday. ... read full note

Washington Dylan Morris
Mar 09, 2023: Dylan Morris came under heavy criticism as the starting quarterback for the Washington Huskies during their 4-8 season in ... read full note

South Florida Gerry Bohanon
Mar 09, 2023: Almost three months to the day after his hiring, new USF coach Alex Golesh staged the first spring practice of his tenure ... read full note

Washington Edefuan Ulofoshio
Mar 10, 2023: On the first day of his last year of college football, Edefuan Ulofoshio was back in the middle of it all Monday morning ... read full note

Washington State Isaiah Paul
Mar 10, 2023: Two months after joining Washington State's football team, Isaiah Paul is heading back to the portal. The senior linebacker, ... read full note

Southern California Eric Gentry
Mar 10, 2023: Linebacker Eric Gentry will miss all of spring practice following ankle surgery last month, Riley said. Gentry suffered a ... read full note

Ohio State Jack Sawyer
Mar 07, 2023: Where is Jack Sawyer? The former five-star recruit never really took that Year 2 jump some may have anticipated. His raw ... read full note

Colorado Cormani McClain
Mar 07, 2023: Getting two of the best young cornerbacks in the country to come to Boulder was the first step. Now, the Colorado coaches ... read full note