PALM DESERT, Calif. - Marcus Allen moved down the line of autograph seekers with the grace of a man who rushed for 12,243 NFL yards. Until a Texas Longhorns fan stepped into Allen's face and he flashed the fierceness of a back who wasn't afraid to punctuate many of those runs with little punishment for would be tacklers.
"What about that Texas-USC Rose Bowl game?!" the yahoo practically shouted into Allen's face - after he'd secured his Marcus Allen autograph, of course.
Allen broke into The Stare. This was a stare that could have spent you spiraling into a black hole. He glared at the guy for several moments, not saying a word to defend his alma mater, the University of Southern California. Then, Marcus Allen, NFL Hall of Famer, gave the man a lecture on manners that lasted several minutes.
Nuns and drill sergeants could have taken notes.
By the time it was over, a woman in the crowd was shouting, "We're with you, Marcus! We're with you!" Of course, she was still waiting for her autograph.
Not Marcus Allen. The Raider who ran over the Washington Redskins on the way to 191 yards and the Super Bowl XVIII MVP still bares that intensity at the flick of a switch. A Heisman Trophy rests on Allen's mantle, and 123 NFL rushing touchdowns - second most in history - sit next to his name in the record books. He has nothing to prove. But you still don't want to think about disrespecting him.
"Marcus Allen is one serious dude," comedian Anthony Anderson said.
TravelGolf.com caught up with Marcus Allen and found he wasn't timid with his opinions either. He didn't stiff-arm us while delivering it - but you definitely got the impression that he thought about it.
Q: Your Super Bowl pick?
A: The Steelers are a team that's going to test your resolve. They're going to test how much you really want to play football. They make sure you know they're there. They're going to hit you in the mouth and then hit you in the mouth again.
That's what they did to Indianapolis. They made sure the Colts knew they were playing a football game. There's a big difference between a football game and a video game, where everything's going right for you and you can throw your passes perfectly with timing. The Steelers tested the Colts' resolve and they may have both found the Steelers wanted to play a football game more.
It's hard for me to discount the Steelers. I see something in that team.
Q: You mentioned the Colts. Does Peyton Manning remind you at all anyone in golf? A Greg Norman, perhaps? They have more game than anyone but have trouble delivering on the big stage.
A: No offense to Greg Norman or anyone else in golf, but these guys have four chances to win a major every year. If you're a good golfer, you're guaranteed that. In football, two teams get to play in the big game every year. Two teams out of 32. You can go your whole career in football and get one chance at winning the Super Bowl.
There's no comparison. If you don't win some big ones in golf, it's on you. Every year, you have four chances. It's much harder to be thought of as a winner in football.
Q: When did you really get into golf?
A: I started playing a lot more in my late 20s but still couldn't play all that much. Even now, with the things I have going on, I'm not one of those guys who's out there every day.
Q: With Reggie Bush, another USC back, winning the Heisman, you're being asked a lot how he compares to you as a runner. Is that getting annoying? Is there a comparison?
A: We're completely different other than he's from San Diego, I'm from San Diego, he went to USC, I went to USC, I won a Heisman, he won a Heisman.
Q: That's completely different?
A: [No laugh] We're different as running backs. I think he's extremely dynamic and talented, an amazing athlete. More importantly, he's a really good person.
Q: But you could kick Reggie Bush's butt in golf?
A: What do you think?
Q: Do you get nervous out here playing with the PGA players in front of the crowds?
A: Of course. I always get nervous in golf. Never got nervous in football. Not even before the Super Bowl. I've been playing football since I was 10 years old. It came natural. There's nothing natural about golf.
Sometimes you're just happy to hit it in the fairway.
Q: You're seeing more running backs in these celebrity golf events. Marshall Faulk is out here with you this week. Do you see a switch away from quarterbacks dominating the football entries in golf?
A: We're the best athletes on the field. No reason there shouldn't be even more backs out here.
Q: Who's the most overrated celebrity golfer you've ever seen?
A: It would have to be a quarterback. Quarterbacks are always overrated. They're only as good as their offensive line in the NFL. They're always getting credit for things that they shouldn't get credit for.
Q: Does any trash-talking on the football field carry over to the golf course?
A: You'd be surprised how much trash talk there is out here, especially among the celebrity guys. Golf's not so gentle. At least not the way we play it. You always have some extra interesting money on the side you're playing for. That brings out the talk.
February 3, 2006