By Joseph Gunther
Jared Allen, DE #69
Hometown: Los Gatos, CA
College: Idaho State
Experience: 9 years
The Minnesota Vikings finished eighth in the NFL in sacks in 2007, but could not stop the pass and did not have an individual record more than five.
In order to improve in 2008, the Vikings sent four draft picks (a first, two thirds and a sixth) to the Kansas City Chiefs for Allen and a sixth round pick prior to the 2008 Draft.
Acquiring the reigning NFL sack leader at the expense of several high draft picks and overpaying several free agents showed an urgency to win now.
He has rewarded the Vikings with four seasons of at least 11 sacks. He had a career-year for the Vikings in 2011 with a team record 22 sacks and added four forced fumbles and four recoveries. He has gotten off to a slow start in 2012, but has one sack in each of the last four games.
At the time of the trade there were critics due to some off-field issues that accompanied Allen.
He was suspended for the first four games of the 2007 season – later reduced to two games – because of two driving while intoxicated charges during the offseason.
He faced a difficult decision: keep partying and possibly become just another NFL star that flamed out or make a lifestyle change.
“I had to change my priorities,” said Allen after a practice for the 2008 Pro Bowl. “To me it was a growing up process. I couldn’t keep going out like I was in college. To take my game to the next level I had to make some sacrifices. That (drinking) was the one thing I felt like I could sacrifice.”
The 2007 season and offseason was an eventful one for Allen. He quit drinking and altered his diet during the season. He then led the league in sacks and became the first Chief defensive end to play in the Pro Bowl since 1995. Prior to the Pro Bowl, he announced in late January he was going to open a sports bar in Kansas City. He opened the Jared Allen Sports Arena & Grill in March. Then came the trade in April and a contract extension with the Vikings. His working partner Chuck Tabor wanted to keep the restaurant open, but business was not good with the name sake playing on another team. The bar and grill was eventually closed in May.
Beginning with the 2007 season – his last in Kansas City, he became the second player in NFL history to record three consecutive seasons with at least 14.5 sacks.
When the Chiefs selected Allen in the fourth round of the 2004 draft, the scouting report on him was that his greatest contribution would be as a long snapper and special teams contributor.
All he did was start 10 games at right defensive end as a rookie in 2004 and compile nine sacks, which was one short of tying the Chiefs rookie record. He also earned All-Rookie from Pro Football Weekly.
While at Idaho State, he led the Bengals in sacks three times and named the Buck Buchanon Award winner as the best defensive player in Division I-AA football. He also earned All-America honors, Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors and team MVP honors as a senior.
Allen has found his way back into the media by talking about the NFL’s strategy for protecting players on Friday. His quote is in response to the torn ACL suffered by Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing
“In a league that talks about taking care of defenseless players – players in defenseless positions — that is a situation [where there is] nothing he can do to defend himself,” Allen told NFL Network on Friday. “There is no place [for] that. If you take a guy’s knee, he may never be the same player after that. If we are going to talk about player safety, it needs to be equality [for] all players. My knee is just as valuable as Tom Brady’s in my eyes. There are hits on the [defensive players] that could be illegal and probably save some defensive players.”
Allen has been known to speak his mind freely, but this is an instance where his words have meaning. Several years ago, he had Detroit Lions offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus needlessly dive at the side of his legs behind the play. Allen got up with a noticeable limp and started jawing at Cherilus. He luckily did not suffer a season-ending injury.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.