NEW ORLEANS -- In football, just like life, it's the dash that counts. That little hyphen between the beginning and the end. What did you do with your dash?
That's how people are judged and that's how players are judged when it comes to their worthiness for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This year's group of 15 modern-era finalists has many worthy candidates because of what they did with their dash and one sure-fire no-brainer in former Dallas Cowboys guard Larry Allen, an 11-time Pro Bowler who was voted All-Pro seven times in 14 seasons (10 in Dallas, two in San Francisco).
His dash has two bookend moments. The first came his rookie year in 1994 in a game against the New Orleans Saints when quarterback Troy Aikman threw a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Darion Conner, who had no one between him and the goal line. That was before the 325-pound Allen chased Conner down from behind.
The last moment came most fittingly this week by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, a six-time Pro Bowler, who was humbled as a rookie in 2007 when Allen played with the 49ers in his last year in the league.