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updated: 9/23/2012 5:44 PM

Allen, Raiders reunite after years of turmoil

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  • Former Raiders great Marcus Allen lights the eternal flame for the late owner Al Davis before Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Oakland, Calif.

      Former Raiders great Marcus Allen lights the eternal flame for the late owner Al Davis before Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Oakland, Calif.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The long-running feud between Marcus Allen and the Raiders is over.

In a symbolic move after years of separation and harsh words, Allen lit the eternal flame honoring late owner Al Davis before Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Davis' son, Mark, said Allen's return "meant a lot to my mom." He also said Allen "was the absolute true Raider."

The hostility between Allen and Al Davis simmered for almost three decades.

Allen spent 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders from 1982-1992 and saw his role diminish in his final years with the team. At one point, Davis called him a "cancer" on the team.

Allen revived his career over five more seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and won AP Comeback Player of the Year in 1993. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.

Allen declined to comment through a Raiders spokesman.

"Throughout the annals of the Raiders history, the L.A. chapter was very unique," Davis said. "We had a lot of great players come through there. You think of the Howie Longs, the Branches, but Marcus was the leader of that whole group. He was the absolute true Raider. There are very few football players I've seen like him, that worked that hard."

Davis declined to discuss further details publicly, calling it a private family matter.

When Allen appeared to light the flame that rests on the upper corner of the concourse level, the public address announcer said, "Welcome home ... Marcus Allen." The Oakland Coliseum crowd gave Allen a standing ovation, and Allen waved to the crowd, smiling. The Raiders have had a former player or coach do the honors since Davis died last October.

Given the history between Davis and Allen, the running back was a somewhat surprising choice.

The Raiders drafted Allen 10th overall in 1982 after he won the Heisman Trophy at Southern California. Allen was the 1985 NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP in 1984, when he had a then-record 191 yards rushing in a 38-9 romp over the Washington Redskins.

The root of the Allen-Davis dispute still remains a mystery.

Some believe Davis was upset because Allen might have wanted more carries and more money. Or that Allen had become a bigger star than Davis in Los Angeles.

In Murray Olderman's book published in August, "Just Win, Baby: The Al Davis Story," he wrote that Davis disapproved of Allen's relationship with O.J. Simpson.

Over Allen's tenure, Davis also brought in Bo Jackson, Roger Craig and Eric Dickerson among other running backs to split carries. Allen rushed for 1,759 yards in 1985 and never ran for more than 831 yards in his final seven seasons in Los Angeles.

Allen said in a 1992 interview on Monday Night Football that Davis "told me he was going to get me." In his 2010 documentary, "Straight Outta L.A.," longtime Raiders fan and rapper Ice Cube asked Davis if Allen was a true Raider.

Davis replied that Allen was "at one point." Asked what fractured their relationship, Davis said: "I'm not going to tell you. It's a deeper story than you even dream, that I was well aware of, and I just got a certain approach to life."

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