Before we begin the rewind on this the shopping day of America. I want to say something a friends once said to me that has always stuck with me. She told me the weekend of every Black Friday she would have her kids pick out and donate at least three toys they haven’t used much the last year. This is something I urge as many people as I can to do. On the Friday after Thanksgiving we spend the day buying shiny new toys for ourselves and our kids. But many people can’t afford to do so. You never know what old. discarded, unused, and unloved toy will bring someone else unfathomable amounts of joy and entertainment. That brings me to the topic of this rewind: Marcus Allen.Embed from Getty Images
If anyone knows what it’s like to feel discarded and unloved for a shiny, new toy, it would be Marcus Allen. The game we are rewinding took place on Christmas Eve 1994. But to understand what this game truly meant to Allen and Chiefs Kingdom, we’ll have to rewind further. All the way back to the NFL Draft of 1982. The commissioner started the draft in New York, New York. But Allen wasn’t there. Instead he was in California with his family waiting for his name to be called.
The year prior Allen had finished out a remarkable career at the University of Southern California (USC). In his four year tenure at the school Marcus totaled 4,682 yards and 74 rushing TDs. While not as dangerous through the air at USC, he still amassed over 200 yards receiving in three of his four seasons. He played Tailback and Fullback as Trojan and was a member of the 1978 National Championship team. However, it was in his Senior season, that kid from San Diego finally burst on to the scene. In 1981, Allen rushed for 2,342 yards and scored 22 times. Both categories lead the nation, and Marcus was only the 3rd player in NCAA history to run for over 2,000 yard in a season. At the time, it was the highest rushing total the college world had every seen and to this day it remains the 4th best. Those
escalates accolades would earn him the Pac-10 player of the year award, the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award, and the Heisman Trophy.
In a time where running backs were still valued fairly highly valued, Marcus Allen wouldn’t have to wait to hear his name called. With the tenth pick of the 1982 draft the Raiders selected the back out of USC. To Allen it was a dream come true. The Raiders had just announce their move from the city of Oakland to Los Angeles. Allen wouldn’t have to move and he would continue to play at Memorial Coliseum entertaining the same fans, but this time on Sundays instead of Saturdays.Embed from Getty Images
Allen would immediately reward the Raiders for their selection. In his first game wearing black and silver #32 would rush for over 100 yards and score his first career touchdown. Despite a player’s strike limiting the season to only nine games. Allen still amassed almost 700 rushing yards and would be voted the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Over the course of the next three seasons for the Raiders, Allen would never dip below the 1,000 yard rushing mark. In 1985 he would post the best season of his career. Allen rushed for 1,759 yard and earn another 555 thorough the air. That year Allen would win the league MVP while leading the Raiders to a Championship and also winning the Superbowl MVP with another 191 yard performance.
But shortly after his historic season, for one reason or another, Marcus Allen fell out of favor with Raiders owner Al Davis. The reason why is still highly debated to this day, with Allen still claiming not to fully understand the reasoning. It’s possible that Al felt Allen was eclipsing the Raiders themselves, maybe it was Al’s obsession with passing the ball or newly drafted Bo Jackson, or maybe like Davis stated Allen really was late to meetings and often hurt. (At this point I think it’s important to put in this authors opinion. Allen was always one of the most humble, nicest NFL players I’ve ever seen. In my opinion and I believe Allen’s as well, the issue was power. All of LA loved Marcus, when the NFL talked about the Raiders they talked about Allen. LA wasn’t in love with AL Davis. The NFL wasn’t talking about him and his team. This was about an egomaniac with power seeing attention go to someone else.)
In 1986, Al mandated the team become a pass first offense. Allen still posted 700 yards on a bum ankle. However Allen fumbled the ball on important late season, game-winning drive causing LA to miss the playoffs. A heated Al Davis told Allen that he should have been traded a long time ago. But even that off-season Marcus remained with the Raiders. Instead the following season LA would pick up superstar Bo Jackson. Demoting Allen to second string. Wanting to continue to play and help the team, Allen switched to the fullback position, paving the way for Jackson, instead of running the ball himself. In a playoff game against Cincinnati, Bo would suffer a career ending injury and Marcus would take over, rushing for over 140 yards and leading the Raiders to their first playoff win since Superbowl XVIII.
This would not put him back in the good graces of Al though. During the next several seasons, Davis demanded Allen not be allowed to play. At one point Allen, the future Hall of Famer would head into training camp as the 4th string back. Al’s hatred for Marcus got so bad that Allen had to be inserted on a 4 & Goal against Davis’ orders. Allen would score the winning touchdown, but Davis ended up being more upset about Allen being in the game than happy that the Raiders won it. All this time Marcus would keep his head mostly down and continue to help his team any way he could. Despite the lack of playing time his teammates would still vote him to receive the commitment to excellence award a record six times. And after the 1992 season Allen was finally free. He was finally a free agent.Embed from Getty Images
When Allen signed with the Chiefs, he gave two reasons for electing Kansas City. One, he always wanted to play with the famous Joe Montana, who the Chiefs has just traded for. And two, he got to play against Al Davis’ Raiders twice each year. Marcus may have been humble but he was certainly not forgetful. Allen would take advantage of the opportunity and win nine out of the ten times he faced the Raiders. But Marcus was not with the Chiefs just to face off against their heated rival. In his 5 years with Kansas City, he would rush for 3,698 yards and gain another 1,153 yards through the air. While scoring another 47 touchdowns, Allen would break the record for most rushing touchdowns in a career at that time.
While Allen’s Chiefs beat the Raiders twice during his first season with the team, it would be another year before he would get to taste his own sweet personal revenge. On December 24th 1994, The Chiefs traveled to Los Angeles for the last game of the season, with the playoffs on the line for both teams. It was also to be the last game the Raiders ever played in LA (as the home team) and at their last game at the Coliseum.
A head of the game, Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer told the press to win the game they needed to run ball. And with the season on the line they did. While Allen did not find the endzone, he did carry the ball a whopping 33 times to the tune of 131 rushing yards. The Chiefs used his dominate ground game to cruise to an easy 19-9 victory. Marcus Allen put on a show for the Raiders’ first ever game in Los Angles, and he did so again for their last. This time in a hated rivals uniform, extinguishing the LA Raiders’ last ever hopes for a playoff appearance and propelling the Chiefs in their place.