Cowboys offensive lineman Tyler Smith grew up in Dallas-Fort Worth, but he was only 4 when Larry Allen played his final game for the Cowboys. Smith was only 6 when Allen retired and only 12 when Allen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Cowboys, though, handed Smith jersey No. 73, which was worn by Allen.
“I’m a younger guy, so Larry Allen is before my time, but I caught on (to how good Allen was),” Smith, a first-round choice, said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Larry Allen wore that number, and I’ve seen a lot of the adversity he went through early in his life, and I feel like I resonate with a lot of that. It means a lot to be able to wear that and carry on that legacy.”
John Madden considered Allen, a second-round choice in 1994, one of the greatest guards in NFL history, along with John Hannah. Smith hasn’t even played his first preseason game yet.
But Smith’s strength reminds owner Jerry Jones of Allen’s strength.
“Not as a player, I’m not saying that,” Jones said of invoking Allen. “But he is strong. We are pleased.”
Allen famously once bench pressed 700 pounds, so truth be told, Smith still has a long way to go in the strength conversation with Allen.
But there is another comparison: Allen contracted meningitis and almost died at 6 weeks old and, when he was 10, he was stabbed 12 times. Smith underwent surgery for Blount’s disease in high school.
If Smith can become even close to the player Allen was, the Cowboys will be happy with their choice.