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Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame Offensive Lineman Larry Allen Dies Suddenly at 52

DALLAS– Larry Allen, one of the NFL’s most dominant offensive linemen during a 12-year career spent primarily with the Dallas Cowboys, has died. He was 52 years old.

Allen died suddenly Sunday while vacationing with his family in Mexico, the Cowboys announced.

A six-time All-Pro who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013, Allen said a few words but let his blocking do the talking.

“Larry, known for his great athleticism and incredible strength, was one of the most respected and accomplished offensive linemen to ever play in the NFL,” the Cowboys said Monday. “His versatility and reliability have also been highlights of his career. Through this, he continued to serve as an inspiration to many other players, defining what it meant to be a great teammate, competitor and winner.

The former Sonoma State lineman drafted in the second round by the Cowboys in 1994 – the year before the last of the franchise’s five Super Bowl titles – Allen once bench-pressed 700 pounds as his teammates stunned, then assailed him.

Allen was feared enough among his peers that famous trash-talker John Randle of the Minnesota Vikings decided to keep to himself when he faced the Cowboys, in order to avoid driving Allen crazy.

“He never said anything,” Nate Newton, one of Allen’s mentors on the Dallas offensive line, told the Associated Press for its article on Allen’s Hall of Fame 11 years ago . “Every once in a while you would hear him say a swear word or hear him laugh that old funny laugh he had.”

Allen entered the Hall of Fame about a year after his mother’s death, knowing that her presence would have helped him deliver a speech after a career spent trying to avoid the spotlight.

“I miss her,” Allen said before entering the lobby. “Whenever I got nervous or I was playing a big game and I got nervous, I would call her and she would start making me laugh.”

The Cowboys were coming off back-to-back Super Bowl victories when they drafted Allen. He was surrounded by Pro Bowl offensive linemen, but it didn’t take long to get noticed, eventually making 11 Pro Bowls himself.

Late in his rookie season, Allen saved a touchdown by beating Darion Conner when it seemed New Orleans linebacker only had Troy Aikman to beat the sideline. Most of the rest of his career was defined by power — first at tackle, where the Cowboys thought he would be a mainstay, and eventually at guard.

“The National Football League is full of gifted athletes, but only a select few have combined the size, brute strength, speed and agility of Larry Allen,” the Hall of Famer said in a statement. “What he could do as an offensive lineman often defied logic and comprehension.”

Allen spent his final two seasons closer to home with the San Francisco 49ers. Then, true to his playful personality, Allen retired to a quiet life in Northern California with his wife and three children.

“He was deeply loved and cared for by his wife, Janelle – whom he called his heart and soul – his daughters Jayla and Loriana and his son, Larry III,” the Cowboys said.

Allen was playing at Butte College when his coach at Sonoma State, Frank Scalercio, discovered him at the college where the lineman landed after attending four Los Angeles area high schools, in part because his mother moved him for the stay away from gangs. .

Then a Sonoma assistant, Scalercio was recruiting another player when he saw Allen throw an opponent to the ground for the first time.

“I kind of forgot about the guy I was recruiting,” Scalercio said.

Allen ended up at little Sonoma, a Division II school, because his academic progress wasn’t fast enough to get him to Division I, where he probably belonged.

“He could literally overcome the will of his opponents, many giving up mid-match or not dressing at all rather than facing him, but that was only on the court,” the Hall of Famer said. “Apart from that, he was a quiet, gentle giant.”

In retirement, Allen showed up at Sonoma basketball games — the football program was abandoned a few years after Allen left — and happily signed autographs and posed for photos.

“He’s even bigger now than he’s ever been on campus,” Tim Burrell, a friend of Allen’s, said in 2013. “Everyone loves him.”

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