Eric Allen, the brilliant cornerback who spent the first seven years of his career with the Eagles, is one step closer to Hall of Fame enshrinement.
Allen on Wednesday evening was named one of 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024. It’s his first time as a finalist in his fourth year as a semifinalist.
Allen made five Pro Bowl teams and one 1st-team all-pro in his seven years with the Eagles and made a sixth Pro Bowl with the Saints. He finished his 14-year career with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders with 54 regular-season interceptions and eight pick-6’s as well as four postseason INTs and a ninth pick-6.
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There are 23 cornerbacks and 45 defensive backs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Only four of them had 58 career interceptions and nine interception returns for touchdowns in their entire career.
Of those four, only two did it as full-time cornerbacks – Aeneas Williams and Deion Sanders. The others, Charles Woodson and Rod Woodson, only reached those marks after converting to safety.
So Allen has more interceptions and return touchdowns than 41 of 45 Hall of Fame defensive backs and 21 of 23 Hall of Fame cornerbacks.
Allen is the only cornerback and one of only two defensive backs among the 15 finalists, which could help his chances to finally make the Hall. The other d-back among the finalists is former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson, a contempory of Allen’s in the NFC East from 1992 through 1994.
The Hall of Fame’s selection committee will meet Super Bowl week in Las Vegas to vote on the 15 finalists. The committee may elect up to five modern-era players and they must earn 80 percent of the vote to become Hall of Famers.
Allen, who retired after the 2001 season, is in his 18th year of eligibility, most of any of the 15 finalists. Modern-era players have 20 years of Hall of Fame eligibility before their fate goes to the Seniors Committee.
The Class of 2024 enshrinees will be announced on Feb. 8. The enshrinement weekend in Canton, Ohio, will be held in August.
Among the other 1st-time finalists is long-time Saints offensive lineman Jahri Evans, a Philadelphia native and Frankford High graduate.
Buddy Ryan drafted Allen in the second round of the 1988 draft, and he immediately became a starter. He intercepted Vinny Testaverde in his first NFL game in Tampa and finished his rookie year with five INTs, a mark no Eagles rookie has reached since.
From 1988 through 2000 – a 13-year span – Allen led all NFL cornerbacks with 57 interceptions. The only defensive back with more was Rod Woodson with 58, but he had 11 as a safety during that span. Allen’s nine INT return TDs were most in the league during that 13-year period.
Allen played in nine playoff games and picked off four passes, returning one for a touchdown. In addition to being one of the greatest cover corners ever, Allen was a tough, hard-nosed, physical player who loved to support the run.
The other finalists are Jared Allen, Willie Anderson, Dwight Freeney, Antonio Gates, Rodney Harrison, Devin Hester, Torry Holt, Andre Johnson, Julius Peppers, Fred Taylor, Reggie Wayne and Patrick Willis.
In addition to Allen, the other 1st-time finalists are Evans, Gates, Harrison, Peppers and Taylor.
Allen was named to the Eagles 75th Anniversary Team in 2007 and inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame in 2011.