Former offensive guard Larry Allen is almost a sure-fire first ballot hall of famer. The man was a monster and played for two of the most prestigious franchises in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers. He was selected to two different all decade teams and 7 different All-Pro teams. Recently Allen was added to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.
His strength is legendary, and the 49ers linebacker learned that one the hard way when we met Allen on the practice field during training camp his rookie year.
“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 at Super Bowl media day, via Pro Football Talk. “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.”
It was this moment that opened the young and naive Willis’s eyes and he realized that college football and the NFL are different levels. And his coaching staff noticed the encounter. They either chose not to yell out Willis’s name or honestly hadn’t learned it yet and instead yelled at him using his name and university. Maybe after seeing him tossed like a rag doll they thought it wouldn’t be necessary to learn his name.
“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?’
Willis apparently though has learned his lesson and evolved since then and is now the anchor of a championship worthy defense. He is a 6 time All-Pro in his own right.