Back in 2001 I shook hands with Big Tex, or at least it felt that way when I hopped in Larry Allen's golf cart for an interview at Dallas Cowboys training camp in Wichita Falls. On that particular day, Allen--one of the biggest, meanest, strongest, scariest players in NFL history--was almost human. We talked about the scar on his chest from a knife fight during his rough youth on the wrong side of Los Angeles. We talked about how he could palm an 18-pound bowling ball. (Try it, I dare ya.) And we talked about how, a month earlier, he had bench-pressed 700 pounds. (That's a 45-pound bar, loaded with 14 45-pound plates, two 10-pound plates and two more 2�-pound plates. Try it, I dare ya.) It was like lifting the equivalent of Big Ben's pendulum or the anchor of the U.S.S. Missouri. I felt like a 5-year-old tentatively reaching up to put a quarter in a Coke machine.
"Strength is a big part of my game," Allen said. "I like to dominate my man, break him down and let him know I'm stronger. Power is a big weapon for me."
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A second-round draft pick from tiny Sonoma State back in '94, Allen matured into 10 Pro Bowls during his 12-year Cowboys career that ended with his release this week. The franchise now has no players remaining from the '90s dynasty that won three Super Bowls. It does, however, have an incredibly strong candidate for its Ring of Honor. --Richie Whitt