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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Jared Allen’s return to Kansas City this week isn’t his primary focus.
Allen and the Minnesota Vikings haven’t won a game yet, so his mind is a bit occupied.
“I’ve got my own problems up here I’m trying to get corrected,” Allen said, when asked about his first game against the Chiefs since they traded him to the Vikings in 2008. “I know they’ve struggled a bit. They’ve had some success last year, which was good. I always root for them because I always think the city is so deserving of a good football team because they’re such great fans. It was a great place to play football.”
That fondness doesn’t extend to the front office.
Allen, in a conference call Wednesday with Kansas City reporters, reiterated his disdain for the way he was treated by then-general manager Carl Peterson leading up to the trade. Allen, who had a drinking problem then and was suspended for two games in 2007 in violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, said he was promised a contract extension that never came.
“Obviously, I had a problem with Clark Hunt, too, because he chose Carl over me, huh? When everything went down there, I didn’t appreciate being lied to. I was told I’d get an extension and everything, and the way things played out, my biggest thing was, `Listen, I don’t lie to you guys. I show up and bust my tail for you. Don’t lie to me,”‘ Allen said.
Peterson’s 20-year run as president, general manager and chief executive of the Chiefs ended after the 2008 season. Hunt is the chairman of the board.
Displeased by Allen’s two drunken driving arrests, Peterson traded Allen to the Vikings for three draft picks, one in the first round and two in the third. The Vikings also got a sixth-round draft pick that became starting center John Sullivan. Allen then signed a six-year contract with Minnesota potentially worth about $74 million with at least $31 million guaranteed.
That was quite the bounty for the Vikings, but it’s hard to argue the trade and the money for an elite defensive end has not paid off.
Allen had a quiet season in 2010, one of a litany of reasons why the Vikings went from NFC runners-up and four points from a Super Bowl appearance to the laughingstock of the league on their way to an embarrassing 6-10 finish.
But even during a down year he had 11 sacks, his lowest total since 2006. The 29-year-old, beginning his eighth NFL season, has the second-most sacks in the league since the trade with 44 1/2 and counting behind DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys.
“I just know in my conversations I had with him when we came to training camp, you could sense the commitment that he had to have a great start and a great year,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “He was so intent and so disappointed a year ago that the work he put into this offseason, he felt like it was going to pay dividends. And, boy, he’s off to a great start.”
Allen has 4 1/2 sacks through three games this year, leading a pass rush that has been one of Minnesota’s strengths surrounded by a number of flaws. He’s eager to face the Chiefs, who have also started 0-3.
“One of us will get our first win down there. I’m excited to go back down there and play,” Allen said.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb knew Allen from past Pro Bowls and as a fellow offseason resident of Arizona, where they’ve trained during the winter. Allen, McNabb and left guard Steve Hutchinson spoke to the team last week, the day after the second loss, to try to keep the confidence and energy level high.
“Being a teammate of his, you realize how hard he works and how he prepares, and that’s all really you want to do as a player,” McNabb said. “You want to be able to be who you are, prepare and get ready for game day and other guys begin to see it. Obviously you see how he plays on game day. I’m happy he’s on my team, obviously applying pressure to other quarterbacks to make them feel kind of how I feel at times. I think he does a great deal for our overall defense.”
The Chiefs are well aware of that.
“Kind of wish he was still hanging around here,” said coach Todd Haley, who arrived the year after Allen was traded. “Tremendous motor. Tremendous determination. Relentless player that the other guys seem to feed off.”
Not a lot of fourth-round draft picks from Idaho State become three-time All-Pros.
“Sometimes in this league you find someone who has something special inside, and he clearly did and does,” Haley said. “He’s kind of grown into that even physically, and that makes him pretty scary to look at when you have to line up and play him.”
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