Jared Allen can’t understand why the media continue to report that this will be his final season with the Vikings because he is a free agent.

Allen definitely will take less money to stay with the Vikings, and I know for sure that the Vikings will make every effort to sign Allen, who still is one of the best pass rushers in the league.

Like Allen, Kevin Williams also will be a free agent at the end of this season. One reason the Vikings defense has played better the past two weeks is that Williams has played some of his best football.

Allen talked Thursday about his experience playing with Williams.

“Kevin is like my brother, man, he is just always there,” Allen said. “He’s a constant pro. He’s always where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be, on and off the field. The dude plays through injuries year in and year out, not a complainer. He just does his job time in and time out and does it at a consistent level.”

Allen was asked if he thinks about playing next season without Williams, either because of retirement or free agency.

“Obviously it goes through your mind, but like I said a million times this year, I can’t cross that bridge now, no sense thinking about it now,” Allen said. “I don’t know where his life is going to go, he obviously doesn’t know mine. We have four more weeks together, and that’s for sure unless the world ends tomorrow or something like that happens to us.

“We just take it day by day and just enjoy the experience of being a team. The NFL is a definite blessing. Nothing is guaranteed in this league, and I think that’s why he is the way he is. He understands it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, you have to continue to work and fight.”

Allen talked about Williams’ consistency and how special it is.

“I think that’s the difference: A lot of guys in this league have one good year; he has been playing at a high level for 11 years,” Allen said. “He’s a great one, in my mind. When I think of the term great football player, that’s what comes to mind is Kevin Williams. He’s just consistent in practice, consistent in his preparation, consistent in his play. To be consistent you have to be here, and the dude is always here. He plays through everything.”

This the sixth season together for Allen and Williams.

“Unfortunately our league has such a high turnover rate that you don’t always get to stay in contact with guys,” Allen said. “You get to know guys in this setting, and sometimes you’re around guys so much at work here that when you go home it’s just like, ‘I need a break.’ Kevin is one of those guys that I’ll speak with the rest of my life.

“In this league I’ve only made a handful of relationships that I stay in contact after you part ways. He’ll definitely be one of those guys.”

Defense improves

Allen was asked Thursday why the Vikings have played better the past two weeks, tying the Green Bay Packers and beating the Chicago Bears.

“Just being more consistent,” he said. “We’re better on third downs, a lot better on third down.

“We still have to limit the big plays and try to be more consistent tackling, but you know [stopping the] run game still needs to improve. Again I think a lot of that comes off the big play, or two big plays maybe. But I can’t fingerpoint one thing or the other.”

If the defense can play as well as it has recently, the Vikings could score an upset win over Baltimore on Sunday.


Major league baseball history was probably made when the Twins signed a free-agent Yankee, pitcher Phil Hughes. Hughes struggled last year, posting a 4-14 record compared with his 16-13 record in 2012. Rest assured, if the Yankees wanted to re-sign Hughes, they had the money to make it happen.

Justin Morneau will have to play two seasons to earn $13 million with Colorado compared to the $14 million he was paid per year over his last Twins contract. The word in Denver is that former Twins teammate Michael Cuddyer was a real influence in Morneau signing with the Rockies.

Rashad Vaughn, who transferred away from Cooper before this season and is one of the highest-rated recruits in the high school basketball Class of 2014 who hasn’t signed yet, has played 11 games for Findlay Prep in Nevada and is averaging 23.3 points, 5.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and three steals. Vaughn is shooting 67 percent from the floor and 50 percent on three-pointers.

Former Hopkins standout and first-round draft pick Royce White spoke with the Des Moines Register this week and discussed where his playing career is at right now after he was released by the Philadelphia 76ers. “Basketball is obviously in flux for me at this point,” he said. “But it’s something that happens to a lot of guys in their early career now, especially with the shuffle format in the NBA, and obviously my situation is unique in some of the things I deal with.” White, who said he has been contacted by a number of NBA teams, has an anxiety disorder and a fear of flying.

The NFL paid real tribute to a Minnesota native and former league official, longtime Senior Director of Officiating Jerry Seeman, when Commissioner Roger Goodell and many current and former league officials showed up for his funeral this week.

Under a new NCAA rule, all of the football coaches on Jerry Kill’s staff and other coaches can hit the recruiting trail for the next two weeks. In the past only a few coaches could go on the road.

Louie Nanne, who committed to Minnesota and then decided instead to play junior hockey in Sioux Falls, S.D., will enroll next year at RPI, where he will have a scholarship.

In eight games for Jacksonville State, former Gophers quarterback Max Shortell completed 102 of 178 passing attempts for 1,435 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions.

The Orlando Sentinel ran a story about Florida State’s transition in adding six new assistant coaches before the football season this year. One of those assistants was former Gophers head coach Tim Brewster, who now coaches tight ends for FSU. Tight end Nick O’Leary discussed the transition with the paper: “It was tough at the beginning. But once we got to know each other and know how people like to be treated and all that, we grew a great relationship where we can talk about anything.” The Seminoles play in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday; a win will send them to the BCS Championship Game.


Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com.