A player like Larry Allen is precisely why Jerry Jones’ tenure leading the Dallas Cowboys can’t be considered a total failure.
The Cowboys are still in an ugly Super Bowl drought that has lasted nearly 25 years. But the success of players like Allen, a massive and dominant offensive lineman in his prime, has made that drought a bit more bearable for Cowboys fans.
This is Larry Allen’s story, the tale of someone who didn’t graduate high school overcoming adversity to become a Dallas Cowboys and NFL legend.
Larry Allen is a Dallas Cowboys legend
Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys drafted Larry Allen in 1994 out of Sonoma State, a program that stopped playing football two years later.
Allen started 10 games as a rookie and moved to the starting lineup at right guard in 1995. Across the next 13 seasons, Allen made 11 Pro Bowls and earned six first-team All-Pro nods.
Paving the way for Emmitt Smith in the Cowboys’ backfield and tasked with keeping Troy Aikman on his feet, Allen appeared on both the NFL’s 1990s and 2000s All-Decade Team. Allen closed his career with the San Francisco 49ers in 2006 and 2007, where he blocked for a then-young Frank Gore.
Dallas inducted Allen into the team’s Ring of Honor in November 2011.
Allen reached the NFL despite never graduating high school
Thanks to the draft rules allowing players to leave college after three seasons, the NFL is flooded with players who never graduated college.
Larry Allen is one of the more notable NFLers who never even graduated high school. Allen attended five high schools in his four years, but never graduated. He began his college career at a junior college before transferring to Sonoma State.
Allen battled other tribulations in his life, including contracting meningitis at three months old. A neighbor also stabbed Allen multiple times when he was only 11 years old.
Allen overcame all of that to become one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history. The league named him to their All-Time Team last year. Allen joined Dan Fortmann, John Hannah, Bruce Matthews, Randall McDaniel, Jim Parker, and Gene Upshaw as guards who made the list. Eighteen total offensive linemen made the team.
Larry Allen made Jerry Jones a very happy man
When players are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, they pick someone to be their presenter.
Some players choose their parents, or their former head coaches. When Larry Allen entered the Hall of Fame in 2013, he picked Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
It was Jones who took a chance on Allen in 1994, drafting a 23-year-old rookie from a struggling FCS program. Allen made Jones look like a genius for the next decade-plus as he established himself as an NFL legend.
When Allen took the stage in August 2013 following Jones’ presentation, he gave his former owner an honor that Jones — who entered the Hall a few years later — surely appreciated.
“Well, first, I’d like to thank Jerry Jones for that amazing introduction,” Allen said, according to the Hall of Fame’s official website. “He’s been like a father figure to me, and whenever I needed his help, he was there to help.”