Dallas Cowboys organization mourns the death of franchise legend Larry Allen

Larry Allen, who possibly overcame more as child to become one of the most decorated players in Dallas Cowboys history than anyone cared to know, died on Sunday.

The Cowboys announced the death of team legend and NFL Hall of Famer, who passed away while on vacation with his family in Mexico.

Allen was 52.

The Cowboys organization offered their condolences in a statement celebrating offensive lineman Larry Allen who spent 12 years of his NFL career with Dallas.

“Larry, known for his great athleticism and incredible strength, was one of the most respected, accomplished offensive linemen to ever play in the NFL. His versatility and dependability were also signature parts of his career. Through that, he continued to serve as inspiration for many other players, defining what it meant to be a great teammate, competitor and winner. “

“The Jones family and the Cowboys extend their deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Allen family and grieve along with the many other friends and Cowboys teammates that also loved Larry.”

News of his death hit his former teammates like a ton of bricks.

“Just received the heartbreaking news of the passing of our beloved teammate Larry Allen,” Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman posted to X on Monday. “He was a HOF offensive lineman that dominated opponents regardless of the position played. Off the field, he was a gentle giant that loved his family. Rest in Peace LA.”

Former Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith posted a video Instagram.

“It just breaks my heart . . . I’m at a loss of words right now. Such a good dude, great player, super person,” Smith said. “The one thing about Larry Allen, I know. He had a big heart and he lived life to the fullest. A man of very few words but on the football field was a beast. And [he] will be sorely missed.”

Former Cowboys guard Nate Newton refused to believe when he was first contacted about it.

The only solace he took was that Allen was with his family and he seemingly passed away peacefully.

“It hurts you because he was such a great teammate and such a great person,” Newton said.

“52 years old, just sat down and died,” Hall of Fame Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin said. “He was on vacation with his family.”

Even more disappointing for Irvin and Newton is that they had lost contact with Allen over the years.

But Irvin said it makes them take stock in their own mortality.

“Every time you hear about somebody you know you feel like batters up,” Irvin said. “Who’s next. Every time every time I talk to one of my old teammates, every time we hang the phone up, I’m always saying that I love I love your back.”

Allen’s NFL career and success was certainly the stuff of legends.

He was drafted with the No. 46 pick in the 1994 NFL Draft out tiny Sonoma State and went on to make seven All-Pro teams, 11 Pro Bowls, two All-Decade teams and was apart of the Cowboys 1996 Super Bowl championship.

Allen was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2011.

He was listed on the NFL’s top-100 list in 2019, which ranked the best players in league history.

His strength, power and versatility were lauded, revered and feared.

“He was Big Joe Giant,” Irvin said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody as big and as athletic as Larry Allen. I remember time were playing basketball. Larry stood under the goal and jumped up and dunked on two feet and the whole goal fell on him. He shattered the backboard and broke the rim. He was just such a phenomenal athletic specimen. That big and that strong. Just a great dude. He was perfect. When got here, he fit right in.”

Allen once benched press 700 pounds. He famously chased down New Orleans Saints linebacker Darion Conner on an interception return in 1994.

Allen played left tackle, right tackle, left guard and right guard at times for the Cowboys.

The team invented the nickel tackle position for him one season.

”He was like a tidal wave. He wiped everything out,” Newton said. “He was truly dominant. He was one my top five offensive linemen in NFL history.”

But perhaps Allen’s greatest feat was surviving a rough upbringing in Compton, Calif., making it to the NFL and living 52 years.

Allen contracted meningitis at 3 months old and was given 24 hours to live by doctors.

He was stabbed 12 times at age 11 in a fight with a neighbor while trying to protect his brother.

“This guy was messing with my brother and I was trying to protect him,” Allen told the Star-Telegram before going into the Hall of Fame in 2013. “I confronted him and we started fighting. His mother actually gave him the knife. After he stabbed me, my mother made me fight him for three straight days until I won. Yes, I lost the first two days. But I come home from school and she is waiting on the corner, saying ‘let’s go.’ She took me to him.”

He attended five middle schools and four high schools, yet didn’t graduate.

Allen lived through turf wars and drive-by shootings between the notoriously violent street gangs the Crips and the Bloods.

He didn’t play football until he was in the 11th grade

“The drug dealers had all the nice cars,” Allen once said of his dreams as a kid, with no thoughts of the Cowboys or the Hall of Fame. “They had everything. They had all the jewelry. “Everybody looked up to them. That’s who I looked up to and wanted until I found this football. Before that I was just running around in the streets.”

Allen credit’s his late mother Vera for raising him tough, while providing some inspiration for him to get out the gangs and take up football.

“She found out I wanted to join a gang and was messing around with gang bangers, so she said, ‘We are going to see how tough you are,’” Allen recalled with a laugh. “We had two high schools in Compton, Compton High and Centennial. All the Crips go to Compton and all the Bloods go to Centennial. She sent me to the Blood school. But I lived in the Crip neighborhood. She nipped that in the bud real quick.”

Irvin remembers talking to Allen about his upbringing and says not enough light is shown on the challenge many guys have to overcome to just to get the league.

“We don’t give them enough credit. We wait on guys to get here and we don’t give them enough credit for what for what they’ve gone through to even get into the league,” Irvin said. “I always say let’s measure a man my distance traveled. Tell me where you are but let me hear about where you started. He came fromit and he was not trying to go back to it.”

And the rest is football history.

Allen was survived by his wife Janelle, and their three children Jayla, Loriana and Larry III. Funeral arrangements and details will be announced in the near future.