For the first time, Eagles great Eric Allen has made the first cut toward becoming a Hall of Famer.
Allen, who had 54 interceptions in a brilliant 14-year career, was named one of 25 semifinalists on Tuesday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021.
It’s the first time since he was first eligible in 2007 that Allen has made it through to the semifinals.
Allen, the Eagles’ second-round pick in 1988, had a franchise-record-tying 34 interceptions in seven years with the Eagles and made five Pro Bowls. He was a first-team All-Pro in 1989, when he had eight interceptions. Allen, Bill Bradley and Brian Dawkins all had 34 interceptions in an Eagles uniform.
Including a pick-six in the Eagles' 1992 playoff win over the Saints, Allen had 10 career INT returns for touchdowns — fifth most in NFL history.
His 54 INTs, including 15 with the Raiders and five with the Saints, rank 19th in NFL history. He added four more in the postseason.
Allen’s winding, twisting, spinning 94-yard pick-six off Boomer Esiason of the Jets in a 1993 game at the Meadowlands was called the greatest interception return in NFL history by Steve Sabol of NFL Films.
Allen is one of seven defensive backs among the 25 semifinalists and one of eight first-time semifinalists.
The list of 25 was whittled down from an initial list of 130 nominees announced in September. This list of 25 semifinalists will be reduced to 15 modern-era finalists, and the Class of 2021 will be announced on Feb. 6, the day before the Super Bowl. The Pro Football Hall of Fame admits four to eight new Hall of Famers each year.
Among the other nominees is the late Sam Mills, who spent the 1983 through 1985 seasons playing for Jim Mora with the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL before a terrific 12-year NFL career with the Saints and Panthers.
Mills grew up in Long Branch and played college football at Division III Montclair State. He was released by the Browns and the CFL Toronto Argonauts before joining the Stars, who produced nine NFL Pro Bowlers and won two titles during their two years in Philly and one year in Baltimore.
The Class of 2021 enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 8, 2021, in Canton, Ohio.
The Class of 2020, including longtime Eagle Harold Carmichael, is scheduled to be inducted on Aug. 7.
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