Professional Football Hall of Famer Larry Allen, Sr., has never won a game of Madden. For years he has been competing against his son, Larry Allen Jr., to no avail. Oddly enough, skills on the actual playing field don’t necessarily translate over to the world of virtual reality.
Allen, Sr., has a Super Bowl ring, though, and not one generated by a computer screen. He also has a gold jacket and a bust in Canton. The former Cowboy and 49er is one of the strongest men to have ever put on an NFL uniform, as well. He was recorded at benching 705 pounds and squatting 905 pounds.
That being said, Allen, Jr., holds his own on the football field. The 6’4”, 285-pound sophomore out of Danville, Calif., has started every game this season for the Harvard football team. Allen, Jr., plays offensive guard for the Crimson, the same position his father played in the NFL for 14 years.
Yet this connection isn’t what defines the father and son. Rather, playing video games, watching horror movies, and listening to Metallica and Jimi Hendrix are what bring the Allen men together. The younger of the two loves to read, World War Z and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series being his personal favorites.
He plays guitar as well, with four in his collection. Bookended by a younger and older sister, Allen, Jr., developed a special bond with his father. The two men love to spend time playing Madden and 2K, and the Saw series is a personal favorite.
Even so, football is a major part of the two men’s lives. Growing up in Dallas with a dad who plays for the Cowboys is a double-edged sword. Like every kid in the heart of Texas, Allen Jr., has been spoon-fed football since a young age. Born right when his dad started playing professional football, Allen, Jr., was raised in an NFL family.
“As a kid, he was fortunate enough…to see my whole career,” Allen, Sr., says. “He was two years old when we started, so he was around the locker room and all the guys.”
And there are perks to that. Hanging out in the locker room, Allen, Jr., was able to meet some of the greatest players of all time like Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and Troy Aikman. However, meeting the greatest defensive player of all time, Lawrence Taylor, made even Allen, Jr., speechless.
“I saw him from across the room,” Allen, Jr., says. “He was talking to Jerry [Jones] then he talked to my dad. It was the first time I was awestruck in front of someone. Just a truly legendary player.”
In addition to going to all the Cowboys’ home games and meeting the players, Allen, Jr., was given an opportunity not many other young football players are afforded: his coach was a professional football player.
“I wanted him to play, and loved watching,” the elder Allen says. “He was around a lot of Cowboy players growing up, so he loved football…. I coached almost every year with him.”
But there’s another aspect we don’t really think about. There are so many perks to having a football-playing father, we forget about the weeks away from home the 11-time Pro Bowler would spend. We forget that for the last month of every summer, Allen’s father would leave the family to go to training camp. We forget that eight of the 16 games are played hundreds of miles away across the country.
However, the importance Allen, Sr., and his wife place on family and education seem to have resonated with the younger Allen. The family is very close-knit, going on vacations around the country, among other things. The values instilled in the Allen children don’t go without notice, either.
“[The Allens are] just a great family,” says Crimson football coach Tim Murphy. “They value education, they value family, they value character. [Allen’s] identity isn’t tied up in football, it’s tied up in being a good person…. They came to Harvard to get the best education possible. The bottom line is he’s a kid that, in a very unassuming way, really loves football. He’s a really tough, physical player, but his nature is very laid-back.”
Allen, Jr., was fortunate enough to have someone living in his house who knows how to achieve the goals every young kid who puts on pads has. Since he was young, he was instilled with a mentality not many others have. However, it wasn’t solely focused on football. As evidenced by his admittance into Harvard, Allen, Jr., has translated this mentality to the classroom. He was a National Achievement Scholar, Scholar Athlete of the Year, four-year honor student, and a member of the chess club in high school.
“One thing that my parents…really wanted me to focus on growing up was academics,” the younger Allen said. “When they realized I had some potential, it was something they really wanted me to do well. My dad grew up in a hard situation; football was one thing that helped him get out of that. He always tells me, ‘You have to have something else.’ And it’s not like this a secondary something else, this is the best school in the world. It’s a priority to do well here.”
As with almost any football player, Allen, Jr., would love to play in the NFL. However, his career path will in all likelihood vary from his father’s. The younger Allen is considering concentrating in biomedical engineering in order to give new life to people suffering from various disabilities, including building a robotic hand similar to the one made for Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.
“I actually didn’t really know I wanted to be an engineer until junior or senior year of high school,” Allen, Jr., says. “One of the…things that sealed it for me was someone, a family friend of ours, who was an engineer…sent me a bunch of stuff to try to help me decide what I want to do…. He sent me videos of people hearing for the first time, seeing for the first time. It just blew me away.”
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