NFL Nation: 2013 HOF

OXNARD, Calif. – As he sat with opposing players before they had to play against Larry Allen, John Madden could notice the dread.

“You didn’t sleep easy the night before, hoping you get to play against Larry Allen,” Madden said. “They knew it. There’s no pro football player that has a fear of another guy that plays on that level, but he was so doggone strong and there wasn’t much you could do against him.”

Allen will be the 14th Cowboy inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, and Madden, a Hall of Famer himself, can’t wait to see him in Canton, Ohio. He shares northern California ties with Allen and got to know him over the years.

Madden remembers Joe Greene praising Allen, even if Greene never played against him. He recalls the respect Reggie White had for Allen. And he remembers the words coaches like Mike Holmgren and George Seifert had for Allen.

Even Allen’s teammates were amazed at what he could do.

“When Nate Newton played he came in at 300 pounds, and that was a number that you didn’t want to exceed,” Madden said. “I remember those days because I coached and those 300-pound guys would be 299, and Nate always fought his weight. He said he always had to be under 300 pounds and he said, ‘Then this Larry Allen comes in and he weighs 330 pounds and they’re all bragging about it. They never let me weigh 330 pounds, and then we got this guy and I saw him and he was a different 330 pounds than I (had) ever seen.’”

What made Allen so great?

“He had everything,” Madden said. “That was the thing he had. He had strength and knew how to use it. There are a lot of guys that have strength and power and don’t use it. There are other guys that don’t have it and go and get beat. He was the type of guy that could use it at the line of scrimmage and use that in space. He could pull and get at defensive back downfield and he could block at the point of attack and pass protect. That’s what makes a great player. You don’t say he had one thing. He had everything.”

Allen made offensive line play cool, and few were cooler or better than Allen, according to Madden.

“He has to rank right up there at the top,” Madden said. “I think you have to go by the ones you’ve seen, and I’ve always put John Hanna up there as that guy. I had Gene Upshaw and he’s a Hall of Fame guard, and I put Larry Allen right there with that group. There was never a question with me whether or not he was a Hall of Famer. He’s one of the all-time great NFL players at his position, and you could make an argument that he’s the best, but you’d have to wrestle some other guys for it.”
OXNARD, Calif. -- Bill Parcells has not coached the Dallas Cowboys since the 2006 season, but his impact on the team remains through the seven players still on the roster.

Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, L.P. Ladouceur and Miles Austin all played under Parcells in Dallas.

“There’s a few left there,” said Parcells, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. “They still have my long snapper (LaDouceur), right? There’s a few, I don’t think too many, but still a few. I look forward to seeing them.”

ESPN Dallas asked the remaining players for their favorite Parcells story.

Undrafted free agent, 2003

"Going against the Giants the day they put me in at halftime. I remember we were leaving the hotel and he goes, ‘Hey, are you ready to go today?’ He’d done that before and he’s sitting down and I said, ‘I’m ready,’ and he’s just like, ‘No, are you ready to go today?' I said yeah. ‘Make sure you are.’ It was just something different about it in the way he approached it. He was letting me know that if the opportunity came up he had come to the conclusion, I feel like, that if the game wasn’t going the right way he was going to go to me. He ended up doing that. I just remember he made me feel very comfortable in the sense of knowing. I had gone three and a half years and played maybe two snaps in the NFL, so it was going to be a big moment for me no matter what, so he allowed me to get a little bit ready. He made it easy on me so I only threw three interceptions in that half."

[+] EnlargeJason Witten
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireJason Witten remembers receiving baby food from coach Bill Parcells during his rookie season.
Third round, 2003

"I broke my jaw my rookie year. I get out of the hospital on a Tuesday and I come in Wednesday morning to the meeting and we had treatment at 6:30 a.m. I come in there and my mouth is swollen. I’m obviously off that week’s game and he walks in at 6:45. It’s 15 minutes into treatment and there’s really nothing they can do other than give me an ice pack to help with the swelling. I’m just kind of there because I have to be there. Bill walks in and looks at Jim Maurer and Britt Brown, ‘Where’s Witten?’ and he made a beeline to me in the corner. I’m still on pain meds, the whole deal. I haven’t been out of surgery 24 hours and he’s like, ‘Listen to me. I’ve got the key to what’s going to get you back out there quickly. Now, I’ve been here with guys and I’ve seen guys go through this and the big thing is keeping weight on and your stamina up. You’ll be OK. I went to the store and I got you this … ' He pulled out two jars of baby food, sweet potatoes. And he was dead serious. He goes, ‘Go get this. There’s good calories, good fat. It’ll keep your weight on.’ And was completely serious about eating baby food. No, I didn’t eat it. But it was pretty cool to think he really believed that I could come back and play. And I did play, obviously, the next day. I still think he probably thinks I ate that baby food."

First round, 2005

"For me as a rookie coming in, it’s your responsibility of getting his Gatorade. You think about getting a guy a Gatorade, and, 'Ah, I can do that every practice,’ but he would play mental games with it. He made it challenging to the point where right before the defense and offense guys would get done, he’ll go to the other end of the field and I’d have to run all the way down the field to him. He liked orange Gatorade and on the first one I brought to him somebody gave me blue and I ran down and it was wrong, so that was my first mess-up. Secondly, he’d just talk to me the whole time either about Lawrence Taylor or some other pass-rushers that sort of played like I did to him. So he’d be on the side of the field and the horn would ring and I had to run full speed all the way back to the huddle, so that was like an extra thing he did. I could tell he had a smirk on his face and he was laughing. He always played those games with me. I figured it out one day. I put the trainer right beside him and told the trainer, ‘Hey, just make sure you get him this orange Gatorade. You see me running down, just make sure it’s right no matter what.’ He’d start talking to me and I was like, ‘Coach, I’ll be right back. I’ve got something to do.’ He figured it out though pretty quick."

[+] EnlargeHatcher
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezJason Hatcher calls Bill Parcells one of the best coaches that he's ever had.
Third round, 2006

"My favorite Parcells story kind of stunk for a minute, but it was my rookie year and I had a baby. My wife went into labor at like 1 o’clock, so we were at the hospital at like 5:30 in the morning. I called Bill and I said, ‘Coach, my wife just had a baby. No one is in town to kind of support her, what should I do? He said, ‘I tell you what, you do what you think is best.’ I did what I thought was best and stayed with my wife. About three hours later my D-line coach called and said, ‘You got to get up here at 5:30 (in the morning) and watch all the film.’ And Bill fined me $5,000. But I ended up not having to pay thanks to Jason Ferguson and Terrell Owens. They went and got it changed for me. But just a great guy; I don’t hold that against him. That’s just who he is. He’s a straight shooter, and if not for that guy, I wouldn’t be here. That’s one of the best coaches I ever had."

Undrafted free agent, 2006

"He was always hard on me. Todd Haley was our receivers coach and he made sure Todd was always hard on me. I remember we played a game in Atlanta and I broke my hand. I never broken anything during a game, especially up to that point because I didn’t play much football, but I remember thinking, ‘Damn, my fingers are messed up.’ I don’t know if I should talk to a trainer or what. I’m like working my way over to trainers, about to say something and he’s like, ‘Miles, get back in there. Tape it up.’ They literally gave me like an Advil essentially and taped me back up and played the game. But it’s one of the things you’re glad you did it later. At the time, I’m like, ‘Oh, my goodness, I’ve still got to kick return. I’ve got to cover kicks and run and tackle somebody and my hand is banged up.’ It’s one of those things where you’re happy you did it afterward. Those are the coaches you look at that you remember and feel a great way toward because they’re the ones that helped you through adversity."

Free agent, 2005

"We were at camp my first (full) year in 2006 and I go to weigh in, and right as I weigh in he’s sitting there with Joe Juraszek and he tells me, ‘There’s the only guy who doesn’t have any competition at camp,’ and I’m like, whatever. He says, ‘Don’t you forget that I got four guys lined up just for you.’ Hahahahahaha. He was just playing with me head, but he was good at it. He knew what he was doing. He’s in the Hall of Fame, so he did something right a few times."

Seventh round, 2005

"My draft call on draft day, I don’t remember what Jerry (Jones) said, but I remember Bill getting on the phone and he says, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to draft you,’ and in my mind I’m like, ‘You guess?’ I was like, ‘Well, Coach, I appreciate the opportunity,’ and he’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ll get a fair shot,’ and he hung up the phone. That’s been my motivation ever since."


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