Pro Football Hall of Fame

Eric Allen moves one step closer to ending outrageous Hall of Fame snub

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Could one of the most egregious Pro Football Hall of Fame snubs be on the verge of ending?

Eric Allen moved one step closer to finally getting the recognition he so richly deserves Tuesday when he was once again named a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024.

This is the fourth consecutive year Allen has been named one of 25 semifinalists for induction. He’s never been a finalist.

Allen, the Eagles’ 2nd-round pick in 1988, had 58 interceptions and nine touchdown returns in a brilliant 14-year career (including postseason). He has more interceptions than 22 of 37 defensive backs already in the Hall of Fame.

Only three Hall of Famers have more interception return touchdowns than Allen – Rod Woodson, Charles Woodson and Aeneas Williams.

Allen made a splash as a rookie with five interceptions for the 1988 NFC East champs and then added eight in 1989, 2nd-most in the NFL behind Browns safety Felix Wright and was named to his first of six Pro Bowl teams and 1st-team all-pro.

In the Eagles’ 1992 wild-card game in New Orleans – their first postseason win in 12 years – Allen capped a wild 26-0 fourth quarter with an 18-yard pick-6 off Bobby Hebert. That was the first INT return for a touchdown in Eagles postseason history.

In 1993, Allen had six interceptions and returned four of them for touchdowns. That was tied for the NFL record for a single season until this past weekend, when Cowboys DaRon Bland recorded his fifth.

After the 1994 season, Allen was the final Eagles star from the Buddy Ryan Era to leave via free agency during the great migration under former owner Norman Braman, and he finished his career with three seasons with the Saints and four with the Raiders.

Allen shares the Eagles franchise interception record of 34 with Bill Bradley and Brian Dawkins. His five INT touchdown returns with the Eagles are a club record, one more than Malcolm Jenkins.

From 1988 through 2000, a span of 13 years, Allen had the 2nd-most interceptions in the league, behind only Hall of Famer Rod Woodson. Allen had 53, Woodson had 57. Woodson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, his first year of eligibility.

Also named a finalist for a fourth time is Ricky Watters, who only spent three years with the Eagles but netted 5,112 scrimmage yards in 48 games. 

Despite playing here only three seasons, Watters has the 2nd-most 1,000-yard seasons in Eagles history with three – behind only LeSean McCoy’s four and tied with Duce Stale and Wilbert Montgomery – and ranks 8th in franchise history among running backs in scrimmage yards.

In 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers, Eagles and Seahawks, Watters netted 14,891 scrimmage yards and scored 91 touchdowns. He was named to five Pro Bowls. His 12 career postseason touchdowns are 5th-most ever by a running back.

From 1992 through 2001, only Emmitt Smith had more scrimmage yards than Watters among running backs.

Watters was also a Hall of Fame finalist in 2020, 2022 and 2023.

The list of 25 semifinalists will be pared down to 15 modern-era finalists and then during Super Bowl week in Las Vegas, the Hall of Fame’s 50-member selection committee will vote on the Class of 2024, first reducing the list of 15 finalists to 10 and then from 10 to five. All finalists receiving 80 percent “yes” votes become Hall of Famers.

Even with the recent additions of Brian Dawkins in 2018 and Harold Carmichael in 2020, there are still only seven Hall of Famers who spent more than half their career with the Eagles. The others are Reggie White (8 of 15 seasons), Tommy McDonald (7 of 12), Chuck Bednarik (14 of 14), Pete Pihos (9 of 9) and Steve Van Buren (8 of 8).

The Hall of Fame Class of 2024 enshrinement is scheduled for Aug. 3, 2024, in Canton, Ohio.

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