It finally happened.
After years of waiting, former Eagles cornerback Eric Allen was selected as one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s now just one step away from having his bust enshrined in Canton, OH to be officially recognized as a Hall of Famer.
It should have happened years ago.
Drafted in the second round by Buddy Ryan in the 1988 Draft, Allen immediately established himself as one of the best corners of the late 1980s/early ‘90s under Ryan’s terrifying 46 Defense. His 54 career interceptions ranks tied for 21st in NFL history, the same as contemporary and Hall of Famer Darrell Green, one more than Hall of Famers Ty Law and Deion Sanders and two more than Hall of Famer Champ Bailey.
Allen was a starter from opening week of his rookie season, when he hauled in five INTs. In his second season, he was a first-team All-Pro with a career-high eight interceptions and his first Pro Bowl nod. In all, Allen was a second team All-Pro two times (1991, ‘93) and made six Pro Bowls in his first eight years, five of them with the Eagles. In 1993, he finished with a league-high FOUR defensive touchdowns, including this legendary return in Week 4 against the Jets.
Back in 1993 to start the season 4-0 Eric Allen had one of the greatest interception return for a touchdown in Eagles history against the New York Jets #flyeaglesfly #throwbackthursday pic.twitter.com/0V5ZbUG5b9— Baltazar Hernandez (@balhernandez21) June 15, 2023
Allen’s legacy goes far beyond just the interceptions and touchdown returns. His role in the Buddy Ryan-Bud Carson scheme was of vital importance, given the frequency of zero-blitzes the two legendary coaches frequently employed at opposing offenses. Ryan and Carson relied on Allen to be singled-up on an opposing team’s best receiver, often times in one-on-one coverage without safety help. His ability to allow the 46 Defense to work by playing effectively on an island helped make the Eagles’ defense of that era to remain one of the most effective and ferocious for the entirety of his time wearing green and silver.
Following the 1994 season, Allen left Philadelphia along with a number of other players from that vaunted Ryan/Carson defense in free agency, signing a deal with the New Orleans Saints, recording five interceptions and starting 16 games every season. He was later traded to the Oakland Raiders where he played the final four seasons of his career through his age-36 season, leading the league in INTs in 2000 with 3. He had 15 interceptions after turning 33 years old.
In all, Allen never finished a season without a pick in his illustrious 14-year career and had a knack for finding the end zone. He is currently the only cornerback with 50 or more interceptions and eight return TDs not in Canton, and remember he set many of these marks when teams were passing the ball with less frequency than they are today.
Of course, there are arguments to be made against his inclusion. According to Pro Football Reference’s Hall of Fame Monitor, his HOFm of 60.95 ranks 53rd among DB. The average HOF DB is 98.02, so it would appear there could be some naysayers to convince.
Allen still has one more hurdle to clear before he can make a speech in Canton later this summer. A committee will meet next month to whittle the field down to no more than five, all of whom must be get at least 80% support. So the odds are still long he’ll make it, but we’ll know for sure Feb. 8 during the “NFL Honors” ceremony.