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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.

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35 Responses to “Larry Allen gave Patrick Willis his “welcome to the NFL” moment”
  1. gregm5s7 says: Jan 29, 2013 12:39 PM

    Awesome story.

  2. Britton Dennis says: Jan 29, 2013 12:40 PM

    This article just reminded me how bummed I was that Allen couldn’t retire a Cowboy.

  3. eaglesw00t says: Jan 29, 2013 12:42 PM

    I love hearing anecdotes like this one. Welcome to the NFL stories make them seem more like normal people

  4. huskersrock1 says: Jan 29, 2013 12:42 PM

    Love the guy’s humility, just another reason to root for him. Most of the idiots in the NFL would admit to ever getting bested.

  5. waxthat says: Jan 29, 2013 12:42 PM

    great story…LA is a monster

  6. negativten says: Jan 29, 2013 12:44 PM

    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”?

  7. vicksprman says: Jan 29, 2013 12:46 PM

    Great story every big headed rookie coming into the league should be required to read this

  8. JackAcid says: Jan 29, 2013 12:47 PM

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

  9. freepretzels says: Jan 29, 2013 12:48 PM

    No shame in losing to Larry Allen.

  10. 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.

  11. 4evrnyt says: Jan 29, 2013 12:57 PM

    Should be considered an honor, Allen spent a career pushing around hall of fame and pro bowl defenders like they were children.

  12. justintuckrule says: Jan 29, 2013 1:00 PM

    Sorry but Larry Allen is not a hall of famer.

  13. grice208 says: Jan 29, 2013 1:10 PM

    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.

  14. eaglesw00t says: Jan 29, 2013 1:10 PM

    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.

  15. thereisfootballwestofjersey says: Jan 29, 2013 1:18 PM

    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!

  16. joetoronto says: Jan 29, 2013 1:22 PM

    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.

  17. Mr. Wright 212 says: Jan 29, 2013 1:25 PM

    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.

  18. stubbyjones says: Jan 29, 2013 1:26 PM

    Many players had the “Larry Allen Flu”..

  19. questforthesixthnotthelast2013 says: Jan 29, 2013 1:29 PM

    Nobody pushin you round anymore big guy, glad you are on the team, glad you got the chance to dance in this big one too! Wasnt lookin too good there for awhile! Forever greatful! Me! :)

  20. wannstache says: Jan 29, 2013 1:29 PM

    I happens to the best of them. Ask Larry about his Thanksgiving Day encounter with Reggie White.

  21. knackstermyea says: Jan 29, 2013 1:30 PM

    Makes me miss those days when the Cowboys were good. And had leadership.

  22. salventuri says: Jan 29, 2013 1:33 PM

    The story is so touching, that I shed a tear.

  23. matthewcarlson1 says: Jan 29, 2013 1:41 PM

    Batman and Robin (Willis and Bowman) are both going to the Hall of Fame.

  24. trollaikman8 says: Jan 29, 2013 1:51 PM

    You can also credit Vernon Davis’s maturity to LA threatening to end his life prematurely.
    LA doesn’t talk very much, but when he does.

  25. JSpicoli says: Jan 29, 2013 1:58 PM

    Played poker with LAllen @ incline.

    Nice guy.

  26. brutus3413 says: Jan 29, 2013 1:59 PM

    I like Madden’s comment years ago…”Is it just me, or are Larry Allen’s numbers getting smaller every year?”

  27. granadafan says: Jan 29, 2013 2:03 PM

    “I was like, ‘You see how big this dude is?’”

    That was my favorite line in this story

  28. 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.

  29. boobsmcgoo says: Jan 29, 2013 2:38 PM

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

  30. travel4football says: Jan 29, 2013 2:42 PM

    Larry Allen (in his prime) vs Vince Willfork: FIGHT! (Sumo perhaps?)

  31. fbwangus8736 says: Jan 29, 2013 3:04 PM

    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!

  32. scgentleman98 says: Jan 29, 2013 4:10 PM

    Just saw that video of L. Allen with the Saint LB. He was just standing still first and then just sprinted down the field to make the tackle. AMAZING!!!!

  33. pesh00 says: Jan 29, 2013 5:28 PM

    Still remember the video of LA benching like 800+ pounds…beast!

  34. alphabeta49er says: Jan 29, 2013 7:07 PM

    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.

  35. sonoco says: Jan 29, 2013 9:19 PM

    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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