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Eric Allen snubbed by Hall of Fame in first year as finalist

He got closer this year. But ultimately, the result was the same.

Inexplicably, Eric Allen is still not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Allen, the brilliant cornerback who spent the first seven years of his career with the Eagles, was a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist this year for the first time in his fourth year as a semifinalist.

But Allen was not among the seven former players selected by the Hall of Fame Committee for enshrinement in the Class of 2024.

Allen, who retired after the 2001 season, was in his 18th year of eligibility. Players become eligible five years after they retire and have a 20-year window of eligibility before their fate rests with the Hall of Fame Seniors Committee.

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.

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 had more interceptions and return touchdowns than 41 of 45 Hall of Fame defensive backs and 21 of 23 Hall of Fame cornerbacks.

Allen was the only cornerback and one of only two defensive backs among the 15 finalists. The other d-back finalist was former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson, who was. also not voted in. Woodson was a contemporary of Allen’s in the NFC East from 1992 through 1994.

The Hall of Fame’s selection committee met this week in Las Vegas to vote on the 15 finalists. Candidates needed at least 80 percent of the votes to make it to Canton.

The Class of 2024 includes Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, Colts edge rusher Dwight Freeney, Broncos defensive end Randy Gradishar, Bears returner Devin Hester, Bears defensive tackle Steve McMichael, Panthers edge rusher Julius Peppers and 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.

The enshrinement ceremony in Canton, Ohio, will be held on Aug. 3.

Among the other 1st-time finalists was 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.

Allen was named to the Eagles 75th Anniversary Team in 2007 and inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame in 2011.

There are 21 Hall of Famers who played for the Eagles, but nine of them played three or fewer years and only seven played more than half their career here: Brian Dawkins, Chuck Bednarik, Harold Carmichael, Reggie White, Pete Pihos, Tommy McDonald, Steve Van Buren.

Only Bednarik, Pihos and Van Buren played their entire career here.

The only Hall of Famers the Eagles have drafted are Van Buren, Pihos, Bednarik, McDonald, Sonny Jurgensen, Bob Brown, Carmichael and Dawkins. White and Cris Carter were supplemental picks.

No cornerback that’s played for the Eagles has ever made it to the Hall of Fame. Dawkins is the Eagles’ only Hall of Fame defensive back.

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