PHILADELPHIA – Beau Allen grew up in Shorewood, went to Minnetonka High School, was a huge Packers fan and …
“My mom is from Wisconsin and was a huge Packers fan,” Allen said. “My dad is from Minnesota and was a huge Vikings fan.”
Older brother Jack was a Vikings fan. Younger sister Grace waffled back and forth.
“We were a house divided for years,” said mom Susie, a registered nurse. “We had Vikings glasses here. We had Packers glasses there.”
Then something happened that united the Allens under one midnight-green flag.
Beau grew and grew and didn’t stop until he was big enough to bench press a Buick. He went to Wisconsin, played defensive line and, in 2014, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him in the seventh round.
Yes, those Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles that will play host to the Vikings in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field.
“Here’s a picture of my dad,” Beau said this week as he reached into his locker at the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex.
There was dad, Matt, a vice president of sales for Elizabeth Arden, wearing an Eagles cap and one very proud-pop smile.
“I don’t think he’s conflicted over Sunday’s game,” Beau said.
He’s not, Susie says.
“We bleed midnight green,” Susie said by phone before boarding a flight from Minneapolis to Philadelphia on Friday. “There’s no equivocation on that. I’m sitting here in my Eagles gear, and there’s a young man across from me decked out in his Vikings gear. We’re total Eagles fans all the way.”
The Allens are used to Beau going against the grain.
His first Vikings-Packers game, he wore his Brett Favre jersey — the first he ever owned — into Lambeau Field. He was with dad, who was wearing a Vikings jersey.
“People around here have equated that to growing up a Cowboys fan in Philly,” Allen said.
Seems like the latter would be harder considering Philly’s notoriously rough-and-tumble fans. Minnesotans are more likely to throw a stern cold shoulder than a fist to the snout.
“I think so,” Allen said, laughing. “Based on my experience.”
Just then, teammate Chris Long, a defensive end, walked by, pointed at Allen and said, “Big Viking fan in the locker room!”
Not really. Before he wasn’t a Vikings fan, Allen wasn’t a Gophers fan. His mom and dad met at the University of Wisconsin. His uncles were football Badgers.
Beau was all-state in football, played hockey and was a member of Minnetonka’s 2009 state champion lacrosse team.
That fall, Allen was unimpressed when then-Gophers coach Tim Brewster dropped in via helicopter as a recruiting gimmick before a Minnetonka game. But he was impressed when he went to Wisconsin and saw trophies and a big wooden axe.
“Beau is always the opposition,” Susie joked.
In Philly, Allen is part of a deep defensive line rotation that is the strength of a defense that ranks first against the run, fourth overall and fourth in points allowed.
The Eagles have seven defensive linemen who have played at least 40 percent of the defensive snaps this year. Allen, who backs up starting tackle Tim Jernigan, has played 41.1 percent of the snaps with a sack and 12 pressures. He has three starts this year, eight in his career and has missed only one game as an Eagle.
“They’re really a tremendous front seven [and] it starts with the front four and relays to the front eight,” Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “They play lots of [linemen] … they’re rotating them like hockey lines, so they go in there and they sell out, and they get a rest. They really trust their guys to be in critical situations.”
One more win over his hometown team, and Beau said he’ll be asking mom for a home-cooked meal large enough to feed the Eagles’ defensive line during the week of Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“If they win,” Susie said with respect, “we could have one big Eagles campout in our cul-de-sac in Shorewood.”
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings insider. Twitter @markcraigNFL