Two onetime Super Bowl champions, former Raider tailback Marcus Allen, 42, and former Kansas City Chief coach Hank Stram, 79, saved the Pro Football Hall of Fame from an unremarkable day Saturday when, along with three others, they were voted in as members of the class of 2003.
Afterward, Allen, the most valuable player of the only Super Bowl game ever won by a Los Angeles team -- the Raiders in 1984 -- said he had expected to be elected.
"I envisioned it," he said. "I've been looking forward to this my entire career. Ever since I began playing football, I've envisioned it all, the Heisman Trophy, league MVP, Super Bowl MVP, Hall of Fame."
Allen, who won the Heisman as a USC tailback in 1981 before representing the Raiders from 1982-92 and Kansas City from 1993-97, made two other announcements:
To make a statement about the importance of family, his presenter will be his father, Harold Allen.
He was choosing not to dwell on the poor relationship he had with Raider owner Al Davis during his playing days and even wished his former team well in today's Super Bowl.
Allen said also that he was thrilled to join the Hall of Fame with Stram and three other players. They are:
James Lofton, a 1978-93 wide receiver for Green Bay, Buffalo, Philadelphia and both Los Angeles teams, the Rams and Raiders.
Elvin Bethea, who was a defensive end for the Houston Oilers from 1968-83.
Joe DeLamielleure, a 1970s Buffalo guard who played for the Cleveland Browns in the 1980s.
During Stram's coaching career from 1960-77 at Dallas (the AFL's Texans), Kansas City and New Orleans, he led Super Bowl teams in Games I and IV. His Chiefs lost to Green Bay in the historic opener at the Los Angeles Coliseum and won Super Bowl IV over Minnesota. He was the seniors' committee nominee.
Lofton was an Academic All-American at Stanford before he became a first-round draft choice by Green Bay and, in time, a teammate of Allen's in Los Angeles.
Bethea was known throughout his long career as pass-rusher and run-stopper. DeLamielleure is remembered as one of the blockers for O.J. Simpson at Buffalo.
The five Hall of Fame winners were the survivors of consecutive rounds of voting by the selection committee.
Other candidates who lasted into the final round of six players were former Miami guard Bob Kuechenberg and two former Giants, general manager George Young and linebacker Harry Carson.
The four who lasted until the semifinal round of 10 candidates included two former Raiders, cornerback Lester Hayes and quarterback Ken Stabler, plus former Washington wide receiver Art Monk and Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson.
Setting Allen apart from the other candidates -- and, in fact, from anyone else ever voted into the Hall of Fame -- is that at the height of his career, his playing time and carries were dramatically reduced by the Raiders for reasons that were not announced at the time and never divulged.
All of a sudden, in the midst of a storied career, a future Hall of Fame running back employed by a future Hall of Fame owner wasn't playing.
It was assumed at the time that Allen had had a falling out with Davis, who doesn't comment in public on the situation.
Allen has speculated that his efforts to improve his salary led to the rift, but those familiar with the Raiders say that's the kind of thing that wouldn't affect Davis deeply.
More probably, the root of the problem was a fumble by Allen in an important game in Los Angeles in 1986.
Davis often complained about Allen's fumbling. And this time, insiders said, others on the club also thought it was inexcusable because the Raiders had reached field-goal position at the 16-yard line of Philadelphia -- a position on the field where, according to unofficial club rules, extra-effort fumbles were never permitted.
The complication was that extra effort was Allen's instinctive approach to ballcarrying.
The easy field goal that would have put the Raiders in the playoffs that season never happened because Allen's fumble led to an Eagle score.
The upshot was that Allen was on the bench often until he signed with Kansas City, where he was a star.
He said that he will ask the Hall of Fame to let him represent the Raiders and Chiefs at the Canton, Ohio, presentation ceremony in July, but a Hall of Fame representative said players are identified by position, not team.
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*--* The five who will be inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame: Running back Marcus Allen 16 seasons with Raiders and Chiefs and Super Bowl XVIII MVP (191 yards, two TDs) Defensive end Elvin Bethea 16 seasons with Oilers with 105 sacks (although statistic was unofficial until 1982) Guard Joe DeLamielleure 13 seasons with Bills and Browns and selected to NFL's 1970s all-decade team Wide receiver James Lofton 16 seasons with five teams (including Raiders) and had 14,004 yards receiving Head coach Hank Stram 17 seasons and led Chiefs to Super Bowl appearances in 1967 and 1970