Marcus Allen says he won’t ever choose between Raiders and Chiefs


Where Are They Now: The HOF RB loves both of his former teams as they prepare to meet.

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THEN: One of the game’s all-time great running backs, Marcus Allen spent 16 years in the NFL during the 1980s and ‘90s, including 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders and five with the Kansas City Chiefs – two teams that play Thursday night with everything on the line. The 1981 Heisman Trophy winner and a 1978 national champion at USC, Allen was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 1982, the Super Bowl MVP in 1983 and the league MVP in 1985. His 12,243 rushing yards rank 13th on the NFL’s all-time list, and he’s third all-time in rushing touchdowns, with 123. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

NOW: Allen, 56, is currently working on behalf of Kay Jewelers, promoting the company’s holiday #SingforStJudeDonation fundraiser alongside St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “I like to align myself with people who believe what I believe,” Allen said of the campaign, which asks users to post a video of themselves singing the Kay Jewelers jingle in exchange for a $100 donation to St. Jude. “You’re rich by what you give and you’re poor by what you keep, and I think there’s a lot of great organizations out there, but there’s fewer greater than St. Jude’s and what they do for children.”

ON HIS FAVORITE RUNNING BACKS IN TODAY’S NFL: “I love Le’Veon Bell because of his versatility. And I sort of have an affinity toward taller backs, because to me it’s harder to play if you’re a tall back. It’s much easier if you’re 5’9” or 5’10”, hiding behind the offensive linemen where defenders can’t see you. But if you’re 6’3”, there’s no hiding, and there’s something really extra that’s required, a special talent that’s required to make people miss when you’re that big, when you have that size. So I think he’s an extremely skilled player, I think he can run, block, he can throw, he can line up in the wide receiver position. He’s just able to do a lot of things, and he’s one of the players I really enjoy watching.”

ON THIS YEAR’S HEISMAN TROPHY RACE: “This year, in particular, I just think it’s going to be really close. I don’t think there’s a clear-cut player. I think (Louisville quarterback) Lamar Jackson may have the lean, but I think it may only be by a nose if he does. But I do always wonder about the criteria. I always want the best player (to win), and I don’t care if they happened to lose three games when he played fantastic. I don’t think a guy should be penalized because of that. It seems like the criteria, for some, is that you have to be on a winning team and you have to be in the playoff picture, but I don’t necessarily believe in that because a lot of great players get left out.”

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ON THURSDAY’S RAIDERS-CHIEFS GAME: “To me it’s exciting for the first time in a long time, but people always want me to choose between one and the other, and I never will. I love both organizations, and I’m just thrilled that they’re both playing well at the same time. Because for me, I go back to Len Dawson and Daryle Lamonica, or the Snake (Ken Stabler), when the rivalries were some of the greatest in football. There was a period of time when one team would play well and the other didn’t, and vice versa, but now both teams are playing well, and I’ve always said that when the Raiders are part of the playoff picture, the league is better for it. And when we’re talking about (Thursday night), make no mistake about it, this is a playoff game. And in the AFC, when I look at New England with Gronk out — I don’t know what people thought of (the Raiders) at the beginning of the year, and I don’t know if they were a long shot to win the Super Bowl, but the odds seem great, if they continue to play well, that maybe they will.”

ON THE KEY TO OAKLAND’S TURNAROUND: “I talked to (head coach) Jack (Del Rio) and I said to him at the New Orleans game, ‘Everybody knows how to play, but few people know how to win.’ And that’s a thing he’s talked about this year. They’re learning how to win, and I think that you put them in a position to do that when you make bold calls like the two-point conversion against New Orleans, when you go for it on fourth down in Tampa. You send a signal to your team that we’re here to win, not just to play, and I think they’ve gained a lot of confidence from that. Even when they’ve fallen behind, they now have the ability and the mental strength to say, ‘Guys, don’t worry,’ and when you know how to win, that’s a very powerful thing to have.”

ON A POTENTIAL RAIDERS MOVE: “I was the first draft choice of the Los Angeles Raiders, and I clearly think they belong in Oakland, but I’ve always said that if they’re not in Oakland, I’d like to see them in LA. I understand what’s transpired in Las Vegas, but I still think they belong in Oakland, and I think it would be ideal, with the 49ers in Santa Clara and the Warriors in one more year moving over to San Francisco. I think they would own the Bay Area. It’s the sixth-largest market, I think that’s important, and I just hope the politicians are able to do the right thing and make it a friendly business environment so they can stay.”