The honors are stacking up for Larry Allen, like so many logs on the fire, the heat of which makes Allen glow almost as bright in retirement as he did as a player. Tonight in Florence, Ala., Allen will be inducted into his fourth Hall of Fame, the NCAA's Division II, for his play as a Sonoma State offensive lineman in 1993-94. Appreciative certainly he is, and one might think Allen would get choked up over it.

Allen would, if he had stopped feeling like a player who went to 11 Pro Bowls, 10 of them with the Dallas Cowboys. While his body is retired from the NFL, that pesky left shoulder forcing him out, the retirement message has yet to reach his mind and his heart.

Last Sunday, Allen flew to Dallas for the Cowboys-New York Giants game. Allen, who lives in Danville with his wife and three kids, was making his sixth trip this year to a Cowboys game. In a fight with the Giants for the lead in the NFC East, the Cowboys were facing a must-win game. And winning it they were, until New York quarterback Eli Manning led the Giants to two touchdowns within 2:28 in the fourth quarter, the last one with 46 seconds left in the game. The Giants won, 37-34, and Allen went to make his usual trip to the Cowboys postgame locker room.

"But I couldn't walk into the locker room," Allen said, "because of all the emotion I was feeling."

Allen still hasn't been able to let it go. This is his fourth season since he played and yet the game still pulls at him. Allen played for 14 years in the NFL and it very well might take another 14 years for him to comfortably separate himself from the sport. For what he experienced in the NFL, Allen can't get it anywhere else.

"The contact, that's what I loved about the game," Allen said. "Even now I need to get it out of my system."

That's why he goes to a gym, Allen said, and works out furiously, exhausting himself. It is a sight to behold; Allen stands 6-foot-3, weighs 315, 25 pounds less than his playing weight. He's a bear of a man and, only 40, still looks like he could play in the league, if it wasn't for that muscle tear in his left shoulder. Allen could have had it operated on but he was getting tired of being a surgeon's delight. He's had seven surgeries: on his left knee, left ankle, left shoulder, two on his right elbow, two on his right knee.

"I just couldn't punch like I used to," said Allen, referring to an arm thrust into the chest of a defensive lineman.

Contact, violence, physical domination, that's all part of football, no matter what the level of play. At SSU, Allen knew he had to display those characteristics in a bold way. As a small Division II school, SSU typically did not have a lot of NFL scouts trolling the campus.

"I just wanted to get to the NFL," Allen said, "and the more people (players) I could embarrass the better my chances would be at getting noticed."

Yes, Allen admitted, he remembered tossing defensive linemen aside. As a guy who could bench 692 pounds as a Cowboy, Allen recalled one play that stood out.

"I got my guy at the line of scrimmage and then I got the safety," Allen said of blocking. "And then I got into the end zone before our running back did."

So it wasn't a huge stretch to see Allen become one of the elite offensive linemen ever to play the game. ESPN, when it ranked the 100 best players in NFL history, listed Allen at No.95. As voted upon by various media organizations, Allen made 20 All-NFL teams as a player. On Nov.6, Allen was the 20th Cowboy to be named to Dallas' Ring of Honor. He's also a member of the SSU Hall of Fame and the Junior College Hall of Fame (he played at Butte). He won't, however, be in Alabama tonight to accept his D-II honor.

Instead, Allen will be in Carson, where on Saturday he will watch his son, Larry III, play for De La Salle in the state CIF Open championship game. His son is 15, 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, an offensive lineman who, his dad said, "is a little me. He has the genes." Larry III is pulling a 4.2 GPA and "his mother wants him to go to Stanford." That would be Janelle, an Ursuline graduate.

Allen said he wants to see every game his son plays, to give advice whenever asked, to be there as a father, for his own dad wasn't there all the time when he was a teenager playing high school football in the Los Angeles sprawl city of Compton. However, there are exceptions to every rule and there is an exception to this one.

And that would be Allen's induction into his fifth Hall of Fame, the one he won't be able to skip, the one he can't skip, would never think of skipping. That would be the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the gem of gems. Eligible after the 2012 season, Allen is a guaranteed first-ballot selection. He hadn't figured out who will introduce him. In fact, Allen tries not to think of Canton at all.

"I'd go crazy thinking about it," Allen said.

"You mean, the speech? Right?" I asked.

"Yeah," Allen said. "I have to give a speech."

Asking Larry Allen to give a speech is asking a cat to take a bath.

"A speech!" I said again, just to rub it in.

"Yeah," Allen said and he started to laugh and laugh and laugh. It was like the funniest thing he ever had heard. And it probably was. Larry Allen. Holding forth. In front of a nation. With all those Hall of Fame studs sitting behind him.

"I'll probably just thank everyone," Allen said.

And that might take a long time. After all, Larry, think of all those defensive linemen who helped you get to Canton.

For more North Bay sports go to padecky.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.