Marcus Allen Discusses Concussions, Grudges and Weird Rituals Over Breakfast

Younger Millennials, take note. Marcus Allen was a stud.

The USC product ran for 12,243 yards, caught 587 passes for 5,412 yards and scored 145 touchdowns during his illustrious career with the L.A. Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs from 1982-1997. He’s also the only player in the history of football to have won the Heisman Trophy, an NCAA National Championship, a Super Bowl, and be named NFL MVP.

Yup. Stud.

It’s safe to say Allen knows the game as well as any analyst in existence, so it was of great pleasure to sit in on a chat with the former running back before Super Bowl 50. With the help of Bud Light and a little brunch (an under-rated combo), here’s what the San Diego native revealed ….

On the movie Concussion:

Haven’t seen it yet. I plan on seeing it. I had two concussions over the course of my career. One in college and one in the pros. It wasn’t helmet-to-helmet contact. I used to jump a lot and back in college I did a somersault over a guy, and I landed on the back of my head. That was one time, and the other time I went to cut a guy and hit him in the knee with the top of my head. That was a real concussion. I got hurt on that play, and I always told my mother, “Don’t worry, I will always get up.” I told her that in Pop Warner, “Mom, don’t you run out on the field, I will always get up, ok?” So I stumbled to my feet and came over and got the smelling salts. 

On his relationship with team doctors:

My way of dealing with the doctors was to curse at them. So, what happens guys is when you play long enough, and you consider yourself tough, you build up enough currency where they believe you when you tell them you’re fine. Because I played through a lot of things, you know what I mean. So they always believed me when I told them I was fine.

On letting his son play football:

People ask me if I’ll let my kid play. And I say, “If he wants to. My job as a parent would be to educate him and give him all the information that I possibly can and let him make a decision. You can’t live your life in the closet, and you got to go out and make choices and walk by faith and not by sight. So, that’s what I would do. So, if that’s what he wanted to do, it would be rather hard for me to tell him not to, having come out virtually unscathed myself, considering the guys that I played with and what they’re going through.

On Raiders’ owner Mark Davis:

I like Mark a lot; we’ve been friends for a while. Even though I had my issues with Al, I always had a great relationship with him. So, you know, they invited me back to light the torch for Al. He and his mother wanted me to do that, and I came back and did that because I believe in just positivity. Not living with that stuff and harboring it, so I just put it behind me. But yeah, he’s always had that haircut (laughs).


Marcus Allen and journalists at Bud Light Super Bowl 50 event.

On his 74-yard Super Bowl touchdown record being broken:

I was with Tracy Perlman of the National Football League, and we were walking over because I wanted to go to the Sports Illustrated booth. So, we were walking over, sort of through the bowels of the stadium, and we couldn’t see anything. It was just as the third quarter was beginning; I think, just after halftime. So, you know, they kick the ball off. There wasn’t any loud roar or anything, so you know right away they either had a touchback or a short return. Then, all of a sudden, as I kept walking I heard a loud roar and it was funny because I told Tracy, “Boy I hope that was a screen pass” and the further I walked, I ran into a monitor, and it said “Willie Parker just broke Marcus Allen’s Super Bowl record”. I didn’t actually see it, I didn’t want to see it for a long time, but that’s how it happened. So I held the record for 21 years and then it got broken by one lousy yard.

On being tough on the field:

When in Rome… You know, you fit in, and you fight right away. Fighting I think is one of the most important things you have to do. They negated a lot of that [with] penalties. I’ve always said this though: no matter what the size of the person who does something to you, you always retaliate, always. Always.

 There was no intimidation going in there, but remember, if somebody gets away with something there is 30 other teams watching and the way you put an end to it right there is to retaliate. The other guys that are watching go ‘That guy’s crazy’ or ‘Don’t mess with him’. I’m serious, you don’t even have to win, but you have to fight back because if you don’t, you’re done – everyone in the league challenges you.

On holding grudges:

I was one of the crazy people that didn’t wear a mouthpiece. I think this guy Fanning in Seattle – he grabbed my facemask, pulled it and I bit through part of my lip. I’m looking for the official, bleeding from the mouth, and they didn’t call a penalty. I waited a whole year to get that guy, and they cut him right before we played again. 

Another guy, Andre Waters, he grabbed me in a pile, grabbed my Adam’s apple. I remember going to the bench and the locker room vernacular was going and they took me out of the game so I could calm down and stuff. I waited to get him back. When I saw him again I was hurt, so I was in street clothes on the sideline and I was going to get him after the game. He came over to me and said “God Bless You” or something like that and just completely disarmed me and I just walked away like “Damn” (laughter). That’s the truth man! I had waited a year to get him and then he just disarmed me, man, and I just dropped my head and walked to the locker room. Those are some of the interesting thinks that happen that people don’t see.

On weird game rituals:

We had guys that smoked in the locker room; some guys played cards. I would hit guy’s hands but I didn’t want anyone to touch me because I wanted to get in the mood of nobody touching me during the game. Every time I’d shake hands before the game I’d fumble and they’d recover and I was like, fuck man that shit be happening I had to examine what I was doing. No more handshaking before the game. We all have our little idiosyncrasies before the game and I developed that one.

The other thing is I always made it a point to stretch in the end zone; to cross the goal line and reside in the end zone, that’s all I did. That’s where I wanted to end up. I just wanted to create that habit.