As a kid there were two things that I would watch endlessly if my parents plopped me down in front of the television: Julia Child and football. While I still don’t quite understand my fascination with the famous French cook, my love of football can in many ways be traced to Marcus Allen — including his Super Bowl XVIII touchdown run for 74 yards. I was only two when the run actually happened, but as I aged it seemed that every year the Super Bowl came around that clip would find its way into the network’s promotional footage. To this day I shake my head in awe when I see it. In many respects it was the “perfect” run and a metaphor for life.
Marcus Allen was given the ball on the biggest stage and told to run with it to the end zone. He met a wall, so he reversed course. As he did so, he found himself in the middle of a mess of moving obstacles all honed in on stopping him from achieving his goal. Instead of falling down he accelerated forward, gracefully weaving through his adversaries into the open. As daylight approached, he knew he that he still had far to go and that his pursuers would be hot on his heels. It was off to the races, and with steely determination he sprinted to his final destination without anyone else laying a finger on him.
Perhaps Allen says it best:
“That was a beautiful run and it turned out to be a beautiful career. And yes, I did reverse field sometimes. […] but in the end I ended up where I wanted to end up.” —Marcus Allen
As a kid, every time I touched the football I believed I could score, and on some level that confidence was cultivated by watching men like Marcus Allen exhibit greatness on the most elite level. When sports stars try and say they’re not role models, they’re lying to themselves. Whether they like it or not — they are. Kids will mimic the adults in their life; I just happened to have a lot of good ones around, whether it was my own parents or Hall of Fame running backs on television like Marcus Allen. Oddly enough, I even ended up going to his alma mater, USC, as an adult…
If you’re a football fan, look into Marcus Allen. His career is fascinating, especially when one considers that Al Davis did everything within his power to sabotage it while Marcus was in his prime. That, too Mr. Allen handled with grace.
I missed Marcus Allen’s induction into the Hall of Fame, but one day I’ll get to Canton, Ohio. When I do, Marcus’ section will be the first I visit.