Larry Allen gave Patrick Willis his “welcome to the NFL” moment

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Patrick Willis’s rookie season in San Francisco was also the final season for offensive lineman Larry Allen, a mountain of a man who’s a finalist this year for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Willis said at Super Bowl Media Day today that taking on Allen at practice was the moment he realized how different the NFL would be from playing college football.

Willis described a 49ers training camp practice in which he thought he’d be able to run right past Allen and make a tackle. Instead, Allen drilled him and sent him flying across the field.

“I saw Larry Allen and I was like, ‘I’m going to put a move on him and go get the ballcarrier. That’s what I did in college,'” Willis said. “I’ll never forget: He pushed me and I swear, I was like I started on one side of the field and ended up on the other side of the field.”

Willis said that the 49ers’ coaches got on his case about that one, and that part of the humiliation of getting chewed out was that the coaches just barked out his uniform number and his school, as if they weren’t going to bother to learn his name until he showed he belonged.

“The worst part was hearing my coach say, ’52, Mississippi, what are you doing?'” Willis recalled. “I was like, ‘You see how big this dude is?'”

In time, Willis learned how to take on those big dudes and become an All-Pro linebacker. But in his first training camp, Willis was just the rookie who got thrown across the field by a future Hall of Famer.

35 responses to “Larry Allen gave Patrick Willis his “welcome to the NFL” moment

  1. How do you think Dallas Cowboy kicker Jose Cortez felt after missing a field goal and Larry Allen grabbed him by the face mask and said”MAKE THE KICK”?

  2. Larry Allen could probably bench-press Willis 30+ times. Allen might be a top 10 in terms of NFL’s all-time strongest men.

  3. Patrick Willis may have been amongst the last that Larry Allen pushed around, but he certainly wasn’t the first. Perhaps the most significant because of the stage, was when Steeler Linebacker (and VERY big talker) Greg Lloyd got absolutely pile-drived by Allen early in Super Bowl XXX.

    Allen should be a Hall of Fame certainty.

  4. I love stories like these. Funny too…”You see how big this dude is?” I would find the part of the field that dude isn’t on and stay there.

  5. joestemme says:
    Jan 29, 2013 12:49 PM
    Patrick Willis may have been amongst the last that Larry Allen pushed around, but he certainly wasn’t the first. Perhaps the most significant because of the stage, was when Steeler Linebacker (and VERY big talker) Greg Lloyd got absolutely pile-drived by Allen early in Super Bowl XXX.

    Allen should be a Hall of Fame certainty.

    ————————

    As an Eagles fan, I most certainly hate to admit it, but Larry Allen was one of the best guards I have ever seen play the game.

    I hate it when other NFCE teams get these great players, and my Eagles end up with plain old decent players.

  6. Larry Allen is one of the coolest dudes you’ll ever meet. Super involved in the SF Bay Area community and friendly to everyone who wants to talk football with him, (which I did at a stoplight one day!). He rolled down his window and we talked about what a trainwreck the Cowboys have become!

  7. I’ll never forget Larry Allen running down a DB that had just made a pick.

    He was boogying down the sideline and Allen came flying down on an angle and caught the dude, amazing.

  8. Larry Allen once ran down a linebacker who had a full speed head start on him — I believe it was a fumble recovery or an INT, and he ran the guy down. At 335 lbs, he does this. I marveled at the guy, and John Madden was justified in doing so relentlessly for over a decade.

  9. Reading this brought a smile to my face, but it also reminded me exactly how much talent Jimmy Johnson assembled in Dallas in the early 90’s (and I am not a Cowboys fan). Must have been a nice luxury to know that every other man on the field on either side of the ball was probably going to the HOF.

  10. He ran down Saints linebacker Darion Conner after an interception on Monday Night Football in 1994. That dude could move for a huge man.

  11. jimbo75025 says:
    Jan 29, 2013 2:08 PM
    Reading this brought a smile to my face, but it also reminded me exactly how much talent Jimmy Johnson assembled in Dallas in the early 90′s (and I am not a Cowboys fan). Must have been a nice luxury to know that every other man on the field on either side of the ball was probably going to the HOF.

    Not to give Jerry Jones credit, but Larry Allen was drafted the year after Jimmy was gone!

  12. Thank you Larry for letting Sonoma State University football live on in the form of MNF player introductions years and years after the school cancelled its program.

  13. To suggest Larry Allen is not a HOFer confirms you know zilch about the NFL. He’s the best lineman of his generation by a large margin. He’s probably the best guard in NFL history. Go Cossacks!!

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