NEW ORLEANS -- Larry Allen said he started crying when he got the news Saturday night that he'd been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Makes sense. What Allen did for a living -- play guard in the NFL for 14 years, the first 12 with the Dallas Cowboys -- was crushing hard work. And while Allen might have been one of the most decorated guards in NFL history, having played in 11 Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl and been elected to two separate all-decade teams, the amount of attention offensive linemen get isn't commensurate with the difficulty of the work they do. Quarterbacks get the glory, as do star wideouts and running backs and pass-rushers and even the occasional cornerback. After doing what he did as well as he did it for as long as he did it, to be elected to the Hall of Fame as a no-brainer on the first try has to be supremely gratifying.
It's not a surprise, though. Allen must have been one of the easiest calls the voters made this year in their eight-hour (!) selection meeting. He was an absolutely dominating player -- an All-Pro selection every year from 1995-2001. He had strength and instincts, and incredible speed and quickness for a man of his mountainous size. During his time, he was the very best in the entire league at what he did, and the length of time for which he did it makes him one of the best offensive linemen of all time. If you didn't know that a couple of hours ago, Allen now has proof. He is, officially, a Hall of Famer.