Having spent three seasons together on the Vikings' defensive line, Jared Allen and Ray Edwards consider themselves friends. And sometimes friends have to remind each other of their camaraderie by, well, popping one other where it hurts most.
At least that’s how the Allen-Edwards reunion went down in Atlanta two weeks ago. Called into duty as the emergency long snapper after an injury to Cullen Loeffler, Allen wasn’t about to let Edwards steamroll him without punishment on an extra point attempt.So when Edwards tried to do so, Allen jabbed him in the crotch.
As Allen told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk: "He’s known for just blowing up the long snapper. As I told him, 'Man, you run me over here, I’m going to punch you square in your wiener, dude.' We were laughing and joking about it. And so he ran me clean over. So I just gave him a little tap just to let him know I could have done it if I wanted to. We had a good laugh about it. But nothing done maliciously."
It's worth a good laugh now. And Allen's antics are often quite amusing. But in truth, the veteran defensive end has shown great maturity this season. He became a father in late-October. He's one sack away from matching his career-high. And throughout a dismal campaign, Allen has tried to keep the locker room upbeat.
In his phone interview with Florio, Allen insisted that he hasn't let all the losing get him down.
"I’ll be honest. This is probably more fun than I’ve had in a season in a while," he said. "I think after last season with all the drama and stuff that went on, I had some time to reflect back this offseason on ways I can improve myself as a teammate and as a leader. One thing I decided was that I can always bring a positive attitude into work."
Allen hopes ultimately, his positive energy is contagious.
"I’ve never been a big cheerleader," he said. "I think the best way to lead is by example. I figure when things get down, guys are going to look toward somebody to see who’s doing [what]. There are guys I look to and stuff like that. So if they see me out practicing, they see me having fun, they see me giving it my all, I think it’s infectious. There are times I’ve been like, ‘Oh, man.’ It starts weighing on you a little bit. And I’m able to turn to guys like Kevin [Williams] or something like that.
"We have a good locker room where guys are there to pick you up. Obviously this season is miserable from a win-loss standpoint. And that’s really what it’s about. But I think the character of our team still shows that guys go out and fight. And the core group of guys in here, we still have fun together, we still pick each other up and try to move forward."