Documentary delves into Al Davis, Marcus Allen feud

Documentary delves into Al Davis, Marcus Allen feud
December 12, 2012, 2:45 pm

Marcus Allen: "There was a time that I came into camp fourth string. I'm in the Hall of Fame, by the way, but I came into camp fourth string, I just want you to know that." (USA TODAY IMAGES)

ALAMEDA -- From the moment Marcus Allen returned to the Raiders in September to light the Al Davis memorial flame, I wondered if this more recent vintage of Raider fan realized just how big of a deal it was at the time.

After all, the Allen-Davis feud of the late 1980's and early 1990s was the dominant storyline as the team called Los Angeles home. The rookie of the year, Super Bowl MVP and NFL MVP had been chained to the bench and reduced to a blocking fullback in Davis' doghouse. The eventual comeback player of the year, with Kansas City in 1993, was reduced to playing bit roles behind the likes of Bo Jackson, Greg Bell, Roger Craig and Eric Dickerson in his last seasons with the Raiders.

And while tonight's NFL Network documentary "Marcus Allen: A Football Life" covers the entirety of his football playing career, from Lincoln High School in San Diego to winning the Heisman Trophy in 1981 at USC to being the Raiders' first-round draft choice in 1982, to his finishing up in Kansas City, what is most intriguing to Raiders fans is the part that delves into the feud.

Former assistant Terry Robiskie spoke of inserting Allen into a 1989 game the Raiders trailed the Cardinals by five points and at the four-yard line late. Robiskie knew playing Allen was against Davis' wishes.

"Not to get yelled at and screamed at and fussed at, I took my headset off," Robiskie said with a laugh.

"I got a little slap on the face, saying, 'Hey, we wasn't supposed to do that. I thought we wasn't going to put him him.' But good thing we did; we won the game…those guys' battles was bigger than us."

[REWIND: Marcus Allen to light Al Davis flame]

Allen remembered the aftermath.

"Going back to the locker room...Al gave me a dirty look, which was the strangest thing in the world because you figure you want to win the game, regardless of who does it," Allen said. "But it was just another awkward situation. The animosity was pretty thick around there."

Allen also spoke of the Raiders continually bringing in those other players to take time from him.

"I don't think there's been any great running back in the league that has ever had to share the position with that many great running backs," Allen said.

"There was a time that I came into camp fourth string. I'm in the Hall of Fame, by the way, but I came into camp fourth string, I just want you to know that."

Said Robiskie: "How did he end up falling from one to fourth (on the depth chart)? Now that came from the top."

The documentary, on the heels of last week's ESPN 30-for-30 production on Bo Jackson, is clean and seamless. Allen, though, never addresses exactly why he and Davis were at loggerheads.

"(Al) felt at some point that Marcus was getting bigger than the Raiders and he had a hard time with that because it was always about the Raiders," former Raiders executive Ron Wolf said. "Whatever the split was, that caused that."

Of course, the most scandalous theory out there, and given renewed life by Murray Olderman's new book, "Just Win, Baby, The Al Davis Story," is that Davis disapproved of Allen's relationship with O.J. Simpson and his inner circle.

"I never quite understood what made things go bad," Allen said. "To me the whole thing was a waste of great talent and energy. If you don't like me, let me go. And I never understood that. Let me go play football someplace else. Now, if you love power, I can understand why you keep me there.

"I think of what could have been, the perfect marriage in Los Angeles with the Raiders. It just didn't turn out to be. And it was, it was a shame."

Others interviewed in the documentary include Allen's parents, Harold and Gwendolyn, Marty Schottenheimer, Ronnie Lott, John Robinson, Howie Long, Al Michaels, Jim Plunkett and Matt Millen.

"I spent 25 seasons with the Raiders," Wolf said. "Of all the players that ever came through during the time that I was there, somebody has to be No. 1. Marcus Allen was No. 1. He's the best player during my time with the Raiders that I've ever seen."

The story, like the documentary, played out with Allen finishing with the Chiefs. In fact, it was with the Chiefs that Allen went 9-1 against the Raiders and became the first player in NFL history with 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards.

"I never thought about getting back (at Davis and the Raiders)," Allen claimed. "Never. Never once, You've got to understand, I loved the guys that I played with and I was always conflicted in that regard.

"I don't hate the Raiders. I don't hate the helmet. I don't hate the colors. I don't hate anybody. I didn't even hate Al. We had a disagreement and life is too short to dwell on it, and you move on."

The documentary premiers at 5 p.m. PT on NFL Network.